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  1. G Laurie, Editor

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    It may be helpful for readers to know how advance directives and withdrawal of treatment decisions operate in the UK. It is now categorically laid down in law that a competently delivered refusal of treatment—either current or advanced—must be respected, even if this leads to the death of the patient. This was confirmed in 2002 in the case of Ms B,1 where the hospital authorities were ordered to pay £100 in damages for assault for continuing to ventilate Ms B against her wishes. It should be stressed, however, that the jurisprudence to date has focused on refusals of treatment and has not endorsed the legality of requests that a patient’s life be ended through active intervention. The active/passive distinction is, of course, as controversial for the law as it is for ethical discourse, but the courts repeatedly make the point that active euthanasia remains …

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