Alfie Evans: Liberty, Institutional Power and Family Life

All the powers of the British state are now lined up against the life of little Alfie Evans. Police officers are deployed outside Alder Hey Hospital and uniformed police secure the room in which Alfie lies. In a series of judgements, the courts have pronounced that it is in the best interests of Alfie Evans to die whether or not he is imminently dying and irrespective of alternative offers of free hospital treatment and care abroad. Accordingly, “treatment”, which after some highly contentious case law, includes food and fluids, has been withdrawn since 9.17 pm on 23 April 2018 and partially reinstated many hours later. In an attempt to keep Alfie hydrated, Tom Evans, Alfie’s father, has gone so far as to use his own saliva in a continuing, defiant, fatherly kiss of his threatened baby boy.

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Parliament overwhelmingly rejects assisted suicide – 330 votes to 118

Parliament voted against legalising assisted suicide yesterday by an overwhelming majority of 330 to 118. Of the 448 MPs voting, 73% opposed Labour MP Rob Marris’s proposed legislation with 210 Conservatives, 91 Labour MPs  and 11 Scottish National Party MPs rejecting the Bill. Although it is widely thought there is widespread support for medical complicity in homicide, the Institute for Social and Economic Research has long said the online polling excludes many older people, disabled people and other natural opponents of euthanasia and its variants.

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ECHR Rejects Convention Rights to Euthanasia

The European Court of Human Rights in Nicklinson and Lamb v. UK has rejected as ‘manifestly ill-founded and… inadmissible’ the appeals of Jane Nicklinson and Paul Lamb. The decision is far from surprising. It only confirms what was said in the case of Pretty v. UK where the Court unanimously rejected Diane Pretty’s application for Convention rights to a medically induced death. In Pretty, the Court held that there had been no violation of Articles 2 (right to life), 3 (prohibition on inhuman and degrading treatment), Article 8 (right to respect for private life – the ‘autonomy’ Article), Article 9 (freedom of conscience) and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination).

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Three-Parent Children, Germ-line Gene Manipulation and Designer Humans

Today’s vote in Parliament in favour of allowing three parent children makes the UK the first country to cross internationally respected bioethical red lines. It does so first by allowing the creation of human beings using DNA from three human beings and secondly, by opening the door to germ-line gene modification. By altering the very make-up of the human species, the technique provokes a global race to manufacture the bio-characteristics of the human person by germ-line gene manipulation.

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Rethinking Medical Homicide

Perhaps in part because of the dwindling birth rates and a steadily ageing and costly population, it is customary now in Britain for the subject of active euthanasia to be revisited every year. Charles (Lord) Falconer is at it again seeking to legalise medical complicity in homicide. The subject comes before parliament on Friday. Notwithstanding the horrific findings of widespread non-consensual sedation and dehydration in UK’s hospitals, hospices and care homes and the Neuberger Review confirming the catastrophe, Falconer is seeking to open up new ways of eliminating the disabled, depressed, old and vulnerable.

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Medical Experimentation on the Dying

Medical practitioners in the UK will be given considerable freedom to experiment on patients if the new Medical Innovation Bill becomes law. Ignoring human rights concerns, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt reasons that it is the role of the government to do whatever is needed to remove barriers that prevent medical innovation. “We must create a climate where clinical pioneers have the freedom to make breakthroughs in treatment”, he argues. He has, however, fundamentally misunderstood the responsibilities of government to protect the lives, freedoms and safety of its citizens. While press coverage trumpets the advantages to British medical research of experimenting on the dying, we should not be seduced by the hype. The draft bill offers few if any concrete restraints on medical experimentation on patients whether terminally ill or otherwise. On the contrary, the proposed legislation invites widespread, unaccountable, degrading and inhuman treatment.

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Belgium in the Grip of Suicide

What happens when a suicidal vision grips a nation? First, the young are eliminated. In 2013 the total fertility rate of Belgium was 1.65 – nowhere near the 2.1 rate needed for population replacement. The bulk of the births was supplied by non-native Belgians in any case. Then state sanctioned medical killing is recommended because there is a costly ageing population and an unsustainable dependency ratio. Too few young people are available to pay for and look after the elderly.

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Deadly Guidance

The Leadership Alliance for the Care of Dying People (LACDP) professes to be involved in public engagement on a proposed substitute for the UK’s Liverpool Care Pathway. Families of victims who died on the pathway and many who made submissions to the Neuberger Review have been omitted from its trumpeted ‘public engagement exercise’. This is, perhaps, unsurprising. The LACDP is led by longtime admirer of the Liverpool Care Pathway, Dr Bee Wee. Families of victims of the infamous Death Pathway (with its self fulfilling sedation-dehydration regimes) have outlined their concerns about Bee Wee and have already announced no confidence in both her and her public consultation exercise. This notwithstanding, the guiding principles outlined in the recently publicised document apparently dated 25th October 2013 nonetheless introduce new dangers for patients in hospitals, hospices, care and individual homes nationally.

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Lethal Blindness

In October 2012, journalistic initiative elicited some horrific facts about what has come to be known in the UK as the Death Pathway (or Liverpool Care Pathway). Until then, many medical professionals had waxed lyrical about Britain’s sedation-dehydration regime. International conferences were run extolling the programme. Medical staff warmly congratulated one another on its use. It looked as though the Pathway was destined for global implementation. Although thousands of families had experienced enormous grief over its use, little attention was paid to them. Legal and medical professionals who warned that death cannot always be diagnosed with any certainty and that placing patients on the sedation-dehydration regimen could all too easily prove self-fulfilling were dismissed as crackpots. Indeed, I was among them. For years I had warned of the political, financial and medical interests that there are in institutionalising medical homicide whether by passive or active means.

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