Churchgoing Woman's Daughters Want Her Pulled From Life Support, But Sister Disapproves 'Killing'

(Photo: Reuters/Philippe Wojazer)Patient seen in the hospital in this undated photo.

An elderly churchgoing woman is the midst of a family dispute in the U.K., with her daughters wishing to withdraw life-prolonging treatment from their brain-damaged mother, though her sister has argued it would be akin to "legalized killing."

According to the Press Association, the woman, in her 70s and identified only as "Mrs. P," is in a "minimally conscious state," and has been receiving clinically-assisted nutrition and hydration at a hospital since last year, after she fell.

The patient is not expected to be able to regain mental capacity in order to maker her own decisions about her health, and has not provided a living will about what her family should do in case she is incapacitated.

The Court of Protection has heard arguments from Mrs. P's two daughters and her partner, who all believe that the woman would not want to continue living under the conditions she is in.

"[Mrs. P] was a very proud and discreet person. Lying there helpless, I feel she would be mortified to be just lying there," a long-time friend of the woman said.

"She was just so determined and full of energy. She did so much for the community. I just think for her to live like that, she could not do it. It was not her."

The patient's youngest daughter added that she would be "horrified" at her situation.

"She would hate it. The indignity of not being able to move, to go to the toilet, to keep herself clean. She would refuse almost all physical assistance," the daughter said.

"She couldn't be seen as weak, frail and unable to do things. That was not who she was."

One of Mrs. P's three sisters, however, said that she believed in the sanctity of life, and argued that deciding to withdraw life support would be a form of "legalized killing."

Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust has applied to the court to continue providing treatment for the woman, and has argued that there is no certainty of what the patient's wishes are.

The Guardian reported that the court is set to deliver its judgment on the case next week.

The U.K.'s National Health Service points out on its website that both euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal under the law.

Euthanasia has been an issue of contention for different denominations, though major church bodies, such as the Roman Catholic Church, are strongly opposed to it.

Pope Francis and the Vatican spoke out in August against a Belgian Catholic charity that reportedly offered euthanasia at its psychiatric hospital centers, calling such practices "disloyal" and "outrageous."

Church of England leader and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has in the past called bills aimed at legalizing assisted dying "mistaken and dangerous."

Lord Carey, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, has said that he would support such legislation, however, "in the face of the reality of needless suffering."

"Today we face a central paradox. In strictly observing the sanctity of life, the Church could now actually be promoting anguish and pain, the very opposite of a Christian message of hope," Carey said in 2014, according to BBC News.

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