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Doctors stop treating Catholic at centre of Court of Protection row

by Press Association

Doctors have stopped providing life-support treatment to a middle-aged Catholic man who had been at the centre of a legal dispute after falling into a coma, lawyers say.

A judge based in London ruled that ending life-support treatment was in the man’s best interests a month ago, at a hearing in the Court of Protection, after his wife said he would not want to be a burden and should be allowed to die.

The man’s mother, sisters and niece, who are being supported by pro-life group the Christian Legal Centre, disagreed and said that, because of his Catholic beliefs, he would not have wanted his life to be terminated if it could be preserved.

His niece failed to persuade Court of Appeal judges in London to overturn Mr Justice Cohen’s decision and failed to persuade judges at the European Court of Human Rights to intervene.

Appeal judges had said that litigation should end.

Lawyers involved in the case said on Sunday that treatment had been withdrawn.

Mr Justice Cohen has ruled that the man, who lives in the West Country but comes from Poland, cannot be named in media reports of the case.

Bosses at the University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust have responsibility for the man’s care and had asked Mr Justice Cohen to rule that ending life-support treatment would be lawful.

Judges sitting in the Court of Protection consider issues relating to people who lack the mental capacity to take decisions for themselves.

Mr Justice Cohen, who also hears cases in the Family Division of the High Court, heard that the man had fallen into a coma several weeks ago after suffering brain damage.

Specialists treating the man said his condition would never improve significantly and thought life-support treatment should end.

His wife of nearly 20 years agreed but his mother, sisters and niece disagreed.

Mr Justice Cohen, who also heard evidence from independent medical experts, concluded that the man’s wife knew more about his views, and decided that ending life-support treatment was in his best interests.


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