Loophole Closed on Euthanasia by 'Back Door'
Byline: IAN SMITH
THE Government was forced to close a loophole yesterday which could have led to voluntary euthanasia in Scotland.
Justice Minister Jim Wallace said his flagship Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Bill would be amended so that euthanasia would not be allowed, either by the 'front or the back door'.
The moves allayed fears raised by church groups over the proposal to give powers to nominated guardians or 'welfare attorneys' to decide the treatment for a person incapable of making up their own mind.
The bill is designed to improve the care of incapable people, such as dementia sufferers, stroke victims and those suffering from brain damage.
It was feared that as it stood the legislation would lead to living wills under which people would be able to ask relatives to refuse treatment on their behalf .
There were also concerns that the proposals may lead to involuntary euthanasia in cases where local authorities would be given welfare attorney rights over people who did not have any relatives.
Representatives of the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Scotland lobbied the Parliament to have these issues addressed in the bill which is due to be implemented by April 2002.
Mr Wallace announced the amendments to the b i l l to address the churches' fears yesterday. The key change will allow doctors to treat patients, even if relatives refuse consent, if they have a second medical opinion. The second doctor's recommendation will overrule any wishes of the family or a welfare attorney.
However, relatives will be able to appeal to the Court of Session if they object to the doctor's opinion. The wording of the bill will be changed so that food and water, fed through tubes, are not classed as a medical treatment. …