The right to die has been considered by the Court of Protection in an unusual and startling case this week. A 50 year old woman who fears that the passing of her youth and beauty means the end of everything that “sparkles” in life has been granted permission to die by the Court of Protection.
The unnamed woman has the capacity to make up her own mind and is entitled to refuse the life-saving kidney dialysis treatment she requires. The Judge, Mr Justice MacDonald explained that the principle was the same for any patient : “the right to refuse treatment extends to declining treatment that would, if administered, save the life of the patient”. The Judge, sitting at the Court of Protection in London, said that many would be horrified by the woman’s decision to refuse treatment, which is said could be characterised as “unwise” or “immoral” but he added that the woman was the “sovereign” of her “own body and mind” and was “entitled” to make such a decision.
Although her decision, according to the Judge “is certainly one that does not accord with expectations of many in society” and “others in society may consider her decision to be unreasonable, illogical, or even immoral”. The Court had no jurisdiction to interfere in the case because there was no evidence that she lacked capacity to make the decision.
The daughter of the woman concerned explained that family members would devastated if her mother died. She said: “We think it is a horrible decision. We don’t like the decision at all. But I cannot get away from the fact that she understands it.” The Court of Protection makes decisions on financial and welfare matters for people who can’t make decisions due to lack of mental capacity.
The issues brought before the Court of Protection, like in this case, can be very painful and are often complex. Our Mental Health, Civil and Property Teams have many years of experience in Court of Protection work across its full range and are ready to offer specialist advice to individuals and their families.
Contact us to discuss your situation via this website or call us on 0191 232 9547.