Letter: Thomas Creedon: legal precedent, faith and quality of life

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rom Mr Christopher Williams

Sir: Your leading article of 2 August "Should we feed Thomas Creedon?" continues the confusion which bedevils debate on this issue, namely the inability of commentators to separate the individual and particular circumstances of this case from the concern that a legal precedent will be set.

The fact that legal precedent will be set cannot be the issue as far as the Creedons are concerned. Legal precedents will continue to be set as long as advances in medical technology result in it being possible to keep people alive who previously would have died. You rightly point out that Con and Fiona Creedon are brave people - far braver than me, because, while I too have a handicapped son, my son's disability (Oliver has Down's Syndrome) has never required me to even imagine, let alone face up to, the awful dilemmas confronting them. But you do not seem to fully comprehend their bravery, despite claiming sympathy for their predicament.

The responsibility for what may or may not happen in the cases of the "thousands of vulnerable people" you refer to must not be imposed on the Creedons. If, as you acknowledge, the Creedons clearly love their son, then surely their attitude towards their son's condition must be of paramount importance in the legal debate. I feel it is insulting to them to suggest that "everyone, including the family, would be better off if this little boy slipped away peacefully".

I do not imagine the Creedons will ever feel better off; at best they will fervently hope that they have done the best that loving, caring parents can do for their child.

Every case will have to be considered on its merits. We can no longer take refuge in simplistic legal precedent. Our technological advance makes simplistic judgement redundant. What is necessary now is a recognition from the legal and medical professions that the basis on which they have previously worked is no longer valid.

Yours sincerely,

Christopher Williams

Hampton Hill, Middlesex

2 August