Euthanasia is not lawful at common law?. A clear distinction was made between an act and an omission, with withdrawing treatment covered under the latter as this can only form the actus reus of an offence where the law imposes a duty of care, which was discharged ?there is no longer any duty upon the doctors to continue with this form of medical treatment or care in his case, and it follows that it cannot be unlawful to discontinue it.? Although the case provided a precedent for passive euthanasia (whereby death is the result of failing to provide medical treatment or withdrawing it)
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"In conclusion, it is clear that, despite the fact that the OAPA 1861 is still in force, the law has moved on slowly over the last century and a half so that there are now legally recognised exceptions, under the AA 1967 and HFEA 1990 in particular, where the law allows the termination of the foetus in the interests of the mother, other children and the child itself when its quality of life is in question. It is arguable, however, that the 1990 Act has not provided any further practical exceptions in comparison to the 1967 Act. However, new problems have developed as science has advanced astronomically in the same period so that now the power and scope of medical practitioners' ability to create life and take it away is once again being called into question, illustrated by Jepson, so the nature and scope of the law now needs to be re-evaluated. This is because, whilst we must act in the interests of life, it is becoming increasingly difficult to determine when one life should be placed ahead of another when we are now often 'over-medicalising' difficult situations31 where a more human touch is necessary both in medicine and the law."
"In conclusion, I have based my research on the case of Airedale National Health Service Trust v Bland (1993) 1 All ER 821. By looking at the courts decisions, we can say the following. The fact that the patient is in a Permanent Vegetate State means that there are slim chances of recovery after a certain period of time which means that there is no benefit further prolonging the patient’s life. The decision to cease medical treatment is because it would be in the best interest for the patient to die as there is no reason to live. Because of his inability to consent and the fact that there is no duty held to him there has been no breach in the law. Therefore, I would conclude by saying that the doctor in charge will not be liable for the death of the patient and will not be prosecuted for the charge of murder.
The aim of this essay was to consider whether the law on assisted suicide in England and Wales is in need of reform, and it has done so by examining past and current reforms that have taken place through case law and through Parliament, before considering the debate in a wider context to establish what the issues surrounding the topic may be and how such matters have been addressed in other countries. It is evident that the law on assisted suicide is in urgent need of reform; as it currently stands the validity is challenged by the implicit sanctioning of suicide tourism (demonstrable by the low prosecution figures of the DPP) and the continued challenges under the ECHR. Additionally allowing such legal ambiguity to exist creates a two tier system where those who have the financial and personal resources to pursue assisted suicide in another jurisdiction are subject to different rules than those who do not, threatening two of the key tenants of the Rule of Law. It is evident that change in this area must come from Parliament, however their unwillingness to bring the issue to the forefront due to its polarising nature suggests that such uncertainty in the law may remain for the foreseeable future."
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