By Steve Doughty
Elderly people with dementia are ‘wasting’ the lives of those who have to care for them, one of the country’s most influential experts on medical ethics said yesterday.
Baroness Warnock said that for the old and sick who are contemplating dying, ‘there is nothing wrong with feeling you ought to do so’.
Her remarks in an interview with a church journal were the first public suggestion from any expert with close links to Whitehall that euthanasia should not only be legal but that elderly people should be pressed towards death.
Lady Warnock said: ‘If you are demented, you are wasting people’s lives, your family’s lives, and you are wasting the resources of the National Health Service.’
Right to life groups furiously accused Lady Warnock and fellow supporters of euthanasia of telling the public they want a right to choose while privately supporting compulsory killing.
Lady Warnock, 84, was the head of the committee which during the 1980s opened the way for legal research on human embryos.
Influential in education as well as in medical ethics, she became an open supporter of euthanasia[…]
She told the Church of Scotland’s magazine Life and Work: ‘I’ve just written an article called A Duty to Die? for a Norwegian periodical. I wrote it really suggesting that there is nothing wrong with feeling you ought to do so for the sake of others as well as yourself.’
Lady Warnock first suggested that the elderly and sick should die rather than becoming a burden four years ago.
In 2006 she supported an attempt by fellow peers to push through a law allowing doctors to kill patients suffering unbearable pain.
Some 700,000 in Britain have dementia and this is expected to double over the next 30 years.
Rebecca Wood, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, said: ‘People with dementia can live quite comfortably when cared for properly. The solution to our dementia crisis is not euthanasia; the answer is more research so we can find new treatments, preventions and a cure.’
Phyllis Bowman, of the Right to Life group, said: ‘When has loving somebody been a waste?
‘We always thought Lady Warnock was in favour of coercive or compulsory euthanasia.
‘Her views are an illustration that while euthanasia is promoted as a right to choose, it pretty rapidly becomes no right to live.’
Euthanasia is a crime in England. But the 2005 Mental Capacity Act endorsed the right of people to have a ‘living will’ in which they can order doctors to kill them if they become too ill to speak for themselves.
Patients are killed by the withdrawal of water tubes, which are considered to be treatment.
Doctors who ignore such living wills – or ignore the instructions of someone appointed by a patient to make medical decisions for them – commit a crime and can face prison.
Comments from Daily Mail’s website:
The phrase ‘Final Solution’ comes to mind.
– David Winstanley, Rotherham, South Yorkshire, 20/9/2008 11:20
Naturally MPs and ex-MPs will be exempted from this
– G Brown, Manchester UK, 19/9/2008 17:34
..another sign that we are all disposable as far as the elite are concerned.
– J. Clarke, Hollywood, California, 19/9/2008 18:44
What Lady Warnock suggests has little or nothing to do with compasion and everything to do with saving the state some money. The UK seems to become a more disgusting and morally degraded place with each passing day.
– Angela, Belfast, Northern Ireland, 19/9/2008 18:45
Hasn’t this ‘clever’ woman caused enough trouble with her bright ideas in the past? She has totally wrecked the education and care for people with special needs.
– Sally, Lincoln, 19/9/2008 18:40
Frightening! Especially coming from an influential person in this country of ours where the Government runs over the wishes of the people. Where would such a policy stop?
– John, Witney UK, 19/9/2008 19:09