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Patients do have a right to treatment.

Though doctors often have to address the very thorny issue of when to withdraw life support, a new aspect of the debate has surfaced in Britain. Medical guidelines in that country currently permit doctors to withdraw artificial nutrition and hydration from terminally ill patients. However, the British High Court ruled on July 31, 2004, that Leslie Burke, 44, who suffers from cerebellar ataxia should win his case to not have food and hydration withdrawn, even when his body becomes incapable.

The judge said current guidelines wrongly look only at a patient's right to refuse treatment, not at a patient's right to get treatment. Lawyers for Mr. Burke claim that the judgment is ground-breaking because it looks at the patient's best interests--their client said he would suffer mental distress and would be aware of the pain of such a death if food were removed (Anchor & Sails, August 13, 2004).
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Title Annotation:Great Britain
Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 1, 2004
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