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Why I wrote my advance decision to refuse life-prolonging treatment: and why the law on sanctity of life remains problematic
  1. Raanan Gillon
  1. Correspondence to Professor Raanan Gillon, Department of Primary Care and Public Health, Imperial College London, Charing Cross Campus, London W6 8RP, UK; raanan.gillon{at}


This paper, pursuing themes indefatigably defended in this journal and elsewhere by Professors Jenny and Celia Kitzinger, explains what led me to write my own advance decision (AD) to refuse life-prolonging treatment if I become legally incapacitated to make my own healthcare decisions for longer than 3 months and am medically assessed as very unlikely to regain such legal capacity. I attach my Advance Decision to Refuse Life Prolonging Treatment to the online version of this paper for comment advice and possible general interest. I argue that while a Supreme Court judgement in 2013, followed by a Court of Protection judgement in 2015 greatly ameliorate my earlier concerns about excessive judicial emphasis on the sanctity of life, certain current requirements in the Code of Practice to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and in the Rules of the Court of Protection, especially Practice Direction 9E, concerning permanent vegetative state and minimally conscious state, seem clearly to contradict aspects of that Supreme Court judgement. If the logical implications of those legal requirements were thoroughly implemented medical practice would be substantially and undesirably skewed towards provision of treatments to prolong life that are unwanted, non-beneficial and wasteful of healthcare resources. I urge that these legal requirements are modified to make them consistent with the Supreme Court's judgement in Aintree v James.

  • Ethics

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