'Unable to communicate'
Tony wrote:... Or how about a legal document that says 'withhold medical treatment if I am unable to communicate'?
If me heart stops beating, for example, you should be able to have a legal document that you carry around that says 'do not resuscitate me'.
These are called Living Wills and while they fall a little short of what Terry is talking about, they are certainly close.
probably wouldn't go far enough as it needs to specify/define permanency for one thing. My father, when he went into the hospice to be assessed for home nursing had a 'no resuscitation' form to sign and mum had to countersign it as next of kin - how easy was that? Just an additional sentence on the usual consents when anyone undergoes surgery. There are degrees of consciousness to be considered as with Penfold where people are on life support, but even there we have potential for the nay-sayers to start clamouring because now there can be medically-induced comas for instance, which might/can be abused. As Terry has put it - this isn't compulsory, but it does have to be self
-elective and there does need to be regulations in place to ensure that everyone, including the medical practititioners, are protected from the law itself, as well as from the unscrupulous people that are
around and prey on those who cannot look out for themselves.
In that respect Terry did 'gloss' a little. The reason for the edginess over assisted death as a right, is because the solitary elderly especially are vulnerable to the Harold Shipmans of this world and only a few days/weeks back there was yet another care home manager in court over alleged fatal doses of medication where there was financial gain. There have
to be clear safeguards in place for this to work.
I was mulling over the Tribunal option that Terry's offering to guinea pig in here already and I really do think that this option would make the process far too laborious and complex. So why not look at it from the other end of the life-span. Yes, I'm talking abortion and really it's the same argument - could not your choice of how you die be treated in a similar manner to someone's right to curtail a life growing inside them? Slight difference of course. A woman chooses to terminate her child under certain conditions and justifications - in this country she has to have two doctors certify that carrying that child to term will seriously impair her health in some way. Why shouldn't you be able to do the same when you have lived long enough and need to end it? By all means have a lawyer added to the equation if that is seen as a safeguard, but for gods sake don't make people coldly apply for it when there might still be years of quality of life left to them - or simply because they might change their minds at a later date and would
want to be resusicitated or whatever. It can't be locked down so finitely and when accidents come into the equation with younger, completely healthy people then what happens there where there's literally no time to think about it or it's impossible to ask them?
Maybe combining something that encompasses the abortion criteria, surgery consents and organ donation that can be registered as a matter of course, for every case where someone is diagnosed with a life-detracting
disease/illness/'condition'(because dementia/Alzheimers doesn't
kill you physically
). People could be given the opportunity to tick a box effectively, that says they are open to the assisted death option, if/when they deteriorate and then, when the time comes, they can say 'go ahead I'm ready now', or,
if they're not able to say that, their wish is registered and they can get assessed medically (and legally if needed). Next of kin would probably need to be considered in this perhaps but at least it's all there on record and something less to worry about?