I was interested to read the Government position on travelling for assisted dying and its interaction with the Covid-19 restrictions. Although impacting only a small number of people, for those for whom this is something they wish to undertake in view of their health and diagnosis, it is no doubt important news. One news story this week indicated that someone was to travel pre-lockdown, and earlier than they might otherwise have considered, to ensure their personal choice around assisted dying could still be implemented - meaning the possibility of a life ending earlier than otherwise might have been the case.
This got me thinking about personal autonomy and the importance we all place on being able to make our own choices wherever possible. Coronavirus has restricted so many day to day choices but our capacity - in particular our future potential lack of capacity - can also mean the ability or right to make decisions we might want to make might be taken away from us.
There are, in my view, two possible choices open to us, to plan now for a possible future lack of capacity and how we engage in our health and wellbeing, care and treatment should we have lost capacity. The first option is to put in place a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney - to ensure that you appoint a person or people of your choice to advocate on your behalf and make decisions around these issues if you are unable to.
The second is to consider an Advanced Directive (sometimes referred to as a Living Will) where you make decisions to specifically refuse certain treatments.
Both options provide for a capacitous adult to have some control and influence over their treatment should they find themselves incapacitated in the future.
And whilst the law does not extend to either of these documents permitting assisted dying, it can provide a level of peace of mind for those who may want to know that they will not be treated or kept alive at all costs.
If you would like more information about Health and Welfare Lasting Powers of Attorney or Advanced Directives, please do get in touch.
People travelling abroad for the purpose of assisted dying will not be breaking coronavirus travel rules, the health secretary has said. New lockdown rules in England place restrictions on leaving home without a reasonable excuse. But Matt Hancock told MPs that seeking an assisted death abroad counted as a reasonable excuse.