Euthanasia, Ethics, and Public Policy: An Argument against Legalisation

By John Keown | Go to book overview

21
The Winterton Bill

Chapter 19 showed how the Bland case left the law in a 'morally and intellectually inconsistent' shape, prohibiting the purposeful termination of patients' lives by an act but permitting it, at least in the case of patients in pvs, by omission. In chapter 20 we saw how the recent guidance issued by the BMA appears to have embraced that inconsistency and extended it to patients with less serious degrees of mental disability. In December 1999, in an attempt to restore the law's consistency, Ann Winterton MP introduced the Medical Treatment (Prevention of Euthanasia) Bill. This chapter outlines the bill's provisions, identifies criticisms of it which were made by the BMA and the government, and evaluates those criticisms.


The bill

The bill was short, comprising three brief clauses. Clause 1 provided:

It shall be unlawful for any person responsible for the care of a patient to withdraw or withhold from the patient medical treatment or sustenance if his purpose or one of his purposes in doing so is to hasten or otherwise cause the death of the patient.

Clause 2 stated:

In this Act –

'medical treatment' means any medical or surgical treatment, including the administration of drugs or the use of any mechanical or other apparatus for the provision or support of ventilation or of any other bodily function; 'patient' means a person suffering from mental or physical illness or debility; 'sustenance' means the provision of nutrition or hydration, howsoever delivered.

Clause 3 provided that the Act should be cited as the Medical Treatment (Prevention of Euthanasia) Act 2000; that it should come into force at the

-260-

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Euthanasia, Ethics, and Public Policy: An Argument against Legalisation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Foreword xiii
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Table of Cases xvi
  • Abbreviations xviii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Definitions 7
  • 1 - 'Voluntary Euthanasia' 9
  • 2 - Intended V. Foreseen Life-Shortening 18
  • 3 - 'Physician-Assisted Suicide' 31
  • Part II - The Ethical Debate: Human Life, Autonomy, Legal Hypocrisy, and the Slippery Slope 37
  • 4 - The Value of Human Life 39
  • 5 - The Value of Autonomy 52
  • 6 - Legal Hypocrisy? 58
  • 7 - The Slippery Slope Arguments 70
  • Part III - The Dutch Experience: Controlling Vae? Condoning Nvae? 81
  • 8 - The Guidelines 83
  • 9 - The First Survey: the Incidence of 'Euthanasia' 91
  • 10 - Breach of the Guidelines 103
  • 11 - The Slide Towards Nvae 115
  • 12 - The Second Survey 125
  • 13 - The Dutch in Denial? 136
  • Part IV - Australia and the United States 151
  • 14 - The Northern Territory: Rotti 153
  • 15 - Oregon: the Death with Dignity Act 167
  • Part V - Expert Opinion 181
  • 16 - Expert Committees 183
  • 17 - Supreme Courts 191
  • 18 - Medical Associations 208
  • Part VI - Passive Euthanasia: Withholding/withdrawing Treatment and Tube-Feeding with Intent to Kill 215
  • 19 - The Tony Bland Case 217
  • 20 - Beyond Bland: the Bma Guidance on Withholding/withdrawing Medical Treatment 239
  • 21 - The Winterton Bill 260
  • Conclusions 273
  • Afterword: the Diane Pretty Case 282
  • Bibliography 292
  • Index 303
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