AQA law for A2 by Jacqueline Martin; Chris Turner; Denis Lanser

By Jacqueline Martin; Chris Turner; Denis Lanser

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In this country although euthanasia is not Murder allowed, doctors can withdraw treatment from patients in certain circumstances under the decision in Airedale NHS Trust v Bland (1993). Airedale NHS Trust v Bland (1993) Bland had been suffocated in the Hillsborough Stadium tragedy. This had so starved his brain of oxygen that he had been in a persistent vegetative state in hospital for over three years. He was being fed through tubes. The hospital applied for permission to stop feeding him. The House of Lords stated that there was no rule that a patient’s life be prolonged regardless of the quality of life.

It can be argued that it is better to administer a drug which kills such a patient painlessly, rather than deprive them of food and drink so that they effectively starve to death. There is also a law against helping someone to commit suicide. The DPP is obliged by s 2(1) Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 to issue a code for Crown prosecutors giving guidance on general principles to be used when deciding whether or not to prosecute for aiding and abetting suicide. However, this Code did not cover all situations and in R (on the application of Purdy) v DPP (2009) Mrs Purdy had asked the DPP to issue guidance on this point.

These will continue to be problems in the law of murder. 8 Euthanasia There is also the problem of euthanasia. This is also known as ‘mercy killing’ and is where D kills V because V is suffering through an incurable illness. Quite often, D is the spouse or partner of V and has seen V suffering for a long period of time. Under the present law, if D kills V because he or she can no longer bear to see V in such pain then D is guilty of murder. This is so even if V has begged D to do the killing. This means that D will be sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 15 years before D can be considered for release on licence.

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