United Kingdom Supreme Court authorises withdrawal of food and water for patients in a vegetative state

Publié le 5 Oct, 2018

The United Kingdom Supreme Court has just ruled that medical personnel can remove feeding tubes from patients in a permanent vegetative or minimally conscious state, without requesting legal authorisation from the Court of Protection, provided that families and doctors agree. Lady Black deemed that this would not violate the Human Rights’ Convention.


Previously, the Court of Protection had to rule on a case-by-case basis. This was a long and tedious process that could take months, even years.


This decision could affect thousands of families with relatives in a vegetative state. It is estimated that there are 1,500 new cases every year in England and Wales with 24,000 patients currently in a vegetative or minimally conscious state in the United Kingdom.


In a press release, opponents of assisted dying lamented the fact that these patients in a vegetative state “were in fact going to die from hunger and dehydration”.


For further reading:


The World Medical Association is still vehemently opposed to euthanasia and assisted suicide

The withdrawal of food and water is “assisted suicide”

Great Britain: Doctors continue to oppose assisted suicide

BBC (30/07/2018), Supreme Court Backs Agreed End-of-Life Decisions,

RFI, Chloé Goudenhooft (31/07/2018), Royaume-Uni: une nouvelle loi pour la fin de vie.

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