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(OSV News/Callaghan O’Hare, Reuters)

A Catholic bioethics institute in the United Kingdom has criticised a court for denying an “alert and conscious” teenager the legal right to fight a move to put her on end-of-life care against her will. Source: OSV News.

The Anscombe Bioethics Centre, an Oxford-based institute serving the Church in the UK and Ireland, said the ruling by the Court of Protection in the case of a woman known only as “ST” for legal reasons represented a “lethal form of paternalism”.

The 19-year-old student has been in an intensive care unit in an English hospital since last year after she suffered respiratory arrest while infected with COVID-19.

She also suffers a progressive mitochondrial illness and is now entirely reliant on a ventilator to breathe, a tube to receive nutrition and a hemodialysis machine.

Doctors at the hospital want to move her from intensive care to palliative care, in which the woman will be sedated and denied hemodialysis, resulting in her death from kidney failure within days. 

The patient has instructed her lawyers to oppose the plan.

But in a written judgment issued at the end of August, a judge ruled that ST is “unable to make a decision for herself in relation to her future medical treatment … because she does not believe the information she has been given by her doctors.”

Anscombe Bioethics Centre said in a September 4 statement that the ruling denies ST not only the right to be heard but also “the right to litigate against the decision to take away her voice.”

“To make decisions for people when they could make decisions for themselves is paternalism. It is treating adults as if they were children,” the statement said.


UK teenager wants to fight for her life, but court denies her wish (By Simon Caldwell, OSV News)