Thursday, 26 May 2011

Police involvement in assisted suicide

An article in today's Daily Telegraph on the case of Daniel James, who travelled to Switzerland to avail himself of the services of Dignitas, provokes yet further discussion on the subject of personal liberty.
"But police were only alerted on the day that Daniel flew to Switzerland with his parents, which was too late to attempt to convince him to change his plans, because the doctor wanted to preserve patient confidentiality. Det Insp Adrian Todd, of West Mercia Police, called for clearer guidelines for medical professionals and an overhaul of the handling of assisted suicide cases."
Det Insp Todd in effect complained that whilst others were aware of James' plans to travel to Switzerland, the police were not informed until the day of travel. Yet it is known that James was assessed as having the capacity to make decisions for himself - in which case one has to ask on what basis was James' decision a matter for the police?

In calling for clearer guidelines for medical professionals - ie, calling into question doctor/patient confidentiality, then what is the next step if not calling into question lawyer/client confidentiality? Some might well argue that this attitude of the police is in direct contravention of Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1988.

Be that as it may, I have to raise just one question: Whose life was it that James wished to terminate - his, or that of the police?


A K Haart said...

Good post. This issue seems to be an acid test of whether or not the state is prepared to keep its grubby fingers out of our private lives.

So far it seems not and the absurdity of having to fly to Switzerland continues. There again, the Swiss had the sense to stay out of the EU.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

AKH: Thanks again and yes agree with you on the points you make.