It is fair to say that I don’t often read something in the Guardian Family section that makes my blood run cold but this was an exception.
Take the opening paragraph:
You will never read this. It is possible that someone may read it to you, and as hearing is supposed to be the last thing to go, you may listen. It is five weeks since they decided not to prolong your death any more, and to give you only water, no food, into the tube that goes into your stomach. Five weeks. You are 94 and nobody expected you to be so strong, after being attacked by the strokes or whatever it was that have left you unable to swallow, to speak, to move any part of your body, even your head. There you lie, stoic, waxy and sunken, with just your eyes occasionally open searching into mine, and the occasional muffled sound in your throat, which I think means that you recognise me and are trying to greet me.
There can often be a case for not trying to medically prolong a miserable life and I personally think the case is one such. However, in such cases the patients should be given medication to keep them comfortable. And surely there is a huge difference between withholding medication and withholding food? The former is a decision not to prolong life, the latter is a decision to terminate it. To euthanise, which I am given to understand is illegal in the UK.
It would be illegal for the writer or the medical staff to give her mother a morphine overdose and a quick death. It would be illegal to ship her to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland (who in any event might not give euthanasia as she is not able to give informed consent) but it is legal to condemn her to a long, drawn-out death. Something wrong somewhere.