THE POST DEBATE: Fears That Living Wills Will 'Pressure' Elderly; Few Issues Have Caused as Much Soul-Searching in the House of Commons Than This Week's Discussion about Living Wills. Political Editor Jonathan Walker Reports
Byline: Jonathan Walker
Advance directives, commonly known as living wills, are documents that spell out how an individual wants to be cared for if they become seriously ill and are no longer able to be make their own decisions.
They enable people to state in advance that they do not want to receive certain types of treatment of they are incapacitated.
This can include instructing doctors not to resuscitate them. Most controversially, it can also include refusing food or water if they are incapable of eating in the normal way and need to be fed through a tube.
Critics of living wills say this will lead to people being deliberately starved to death.
The proposals are contained in the Mental Capacity Bill, which received a very stormy ride in the Commons on Tuesday. Now it will go to the Lords, where peers are likely to reject some of the most controversial aspects.
Opposition to the proposals was led partly by Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader.
On the Labour benches, the measures were opposed by backbencher Claire Curtis-Thomas.
She cited the case of her own mother, who made out a living will, but changed her mind after she suffered a second stroke.
The case in favour was made by Baroness Warnock, who spoke of elderly people 'doing the decent thing' and relieving their relatives of the burden of their care. …