March 2009 Living Wills
Doctors in Britain could be prevented from practising if they disobey patients' living wills, according to predictions about draft guidelines to be published by the General Medical Council.
Care Not Killing said: "A doctor who treats their patient can now be actively breaking the law." Mr Julian Brazier MP called the Mental Capacity Act pernicious.
Living wills can include requests for the withdrawal of food and drink.
Vulnerable and elderly people would be worried by the proposed rule. [Daily Mail, 7 March]
This will force medical staff to do harm. People's wants, not necessarily written down, were to be prioritized over their needs even though patients' wishes could change with time and circumstances. [Mail on Sunday, 8 March]
"Man, proud man, dressed in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he´s most assured,
His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As make the angels weep ..."
(Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, Act II, Scene III)
British plans to allow scientists to use hybrid animal-human embryos for stem cell research have won final approval from lawmakers in a sweeping overhaul of sensitive science laws.
The House of Commons also clarified laws that allow the screening of embryos to produce babies with suitable bone marrow or other material for transplant to sick siblings.
First review of embryo science in Britain in almost 20 years - the legislators voted 355 to 129 to authorize the proposals after months of sometimes bitter debate between scientists and religious leaders, anti-abortion campaigners and others anxious about medical advances.
Britain's Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority is a law unto itself; an independent body which regulates fertility and embryo research in the United Kingdom and now has unlimited powers.
Britain has been seen as a world leader in stem cell and cloning research but similar work to create human embryos from animal eggs is also being conducted in China and the United States.In UK everything is now approved, says Josephine Quintavalle, "every taboo is broken, every possible outrage against human dignity is now formally endorsed: animal-human embryos, artificial gametes, cloning using two maternal egg sources, germline manipulation, preimplantation diagnosis for eugenic purposes, posthumous conception, removal of the child´s need for a father, use of tissue without proper consent. The list goes on."
Josephine Quintavalle is the director of CORE, Comment on Reproductive Ethics, a non-profit organisation in the UK which focuses on the controversial issues associated with human reproduction. The group was founded in 1994 and is a key contributor to ethical debate at national and international level.