Sunday, September 30, 2007

Mental Capacity Act: in force Monday


From CFNews: British doctors who refuse to let incapacitated patients die even though it has been stipulated in their 'living wills' could face assault charges under a law to be introduced on Monday. The Mental Capacity Act will ensure that people's living wills or 'advance decisions' will have the force of law when they become incapacitated. They will be able to insist that they do not want to be resuscitated in the event that they lose the ability to refuse treatment themselves. However, lawyers said that this could set the wishes of patients against doctors who want to prolong life where possible.

James Bogle. a leading barrister in the field (and a good friend of the NACF), said that doctors who decided to override the wishes in a living will could be in trouble with the police. 'They could be prosecuted for assault,' he said. An assault prosecution would mean that a doctor who refuses to kill a patient could go to jail. Conviction for actual bodily harm can carry a punishment of five years mprisonment. However. Mr Bogle thought that it would be more likely for a doctor to be disciplined within the medical profession if he or she failed to follow the wishes of a living will. The weakness of the legislation, Mr Bogle said. was that a person who became incapacitated might not want doctors to abide by a living will which he or she signed many years earlier. He said: 'Doctors and nurses would be compelled to obey the advanced decision rather than what they thought was in the patient's best interests because it overrides clinical best interests.' The 2005 Mental Capacity Act also comes into force on Monday to safeguard the interests of people who lack the capacity to make decisions for themselves. The Office of the Public Guardian was launched on Friday to monitor the carers and legal guardians of people with mental illness and to make sure decisions about their finances are made in their best interests.

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Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen