Letter: Euthanasia requests

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The Independent Online
Sir: An 'enduring power of attorney' (EPA) enables anyone ('the donor') to name one or two people whom they would like to look after their affairs when they are not up to coping themselves, and it would not be a vast step for these increasingly popular and very useful arrangements to give the person or persons entrusted with the power of attorney legal authority to make decisions of the kind discussed in your letters columns (10 September).

The donor's relatives and the Court of Protection are not ousted by EPAs, but it is my experience, as a solicitor, that in practice the donor's wishes usually prevail.

Of course, when it comes to persuading doctors to take certain steps the attorney (we need a better name) may not find it any easier than would the donor personally. The doctor may say that he would not accede to a request for euthanasia if it was made to him by his patient, so why should he feel any different if it is made by one or two attorneys?

The best answer to this would be that the attorney was appointed by the donor when the donor was in a better state of health, and that the attorney carried the donor's positive and declared trust, which is not necessarily the case when relatives feel obliged to take on such responsibilities.

Yours sincerely,

D. J. SARGINSON

Stowmarket, Suffolk

10 September

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