Judge due to decide if ill woman should be allowed to die

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A JUDGE is this week expected to decide whether a 68-year-old woman “locked into the end stage” of multiple sclerosis should be allowed to die.

The woman’s daughter says her mother, from the North of England, is “completely incapacitated” and has asked Mr Justice Hayden to allow medics to stop providing “clinically assisted nutrition and hydration”.

Mr Justice Hayden analysed the case last week at a public hearing in the Court of Protection - where issues relating to sick and vulnerable people are considered - in London.

The judge analysed the views of the woman’s daughter, other relatives, medics involved in her treatment, independent medical experts plus lawyers he had appointed to represent the woman.

And no-one involved in the case is opposing the application made by the woman’s daughter.

The judge is due to announce his decision on Wednesday.

He has ruled that the woman, a former hairdresser who is being cared for at a specialist unit in England, cannot be identified.

During last week’s hearing three independent medical experts debated whether the woman was in a persistent vegetative state or a minimally conscious state.

They said diagnosis of patients in the woman’s condition could be difficult.

But the judge was told that all three experts agreed that according to guidelines the woman fell into the “minimally-conscious bracket”.

Lawyers have suggested that if the judge allows the woman to die his decision will be a landmark.

Mr Justice Hayden has said he “cannot contemplate a more difficult decision”.

Four years ago another judge ruled that a brain-damaged, minimally conscious, 52-year-old woman should not be allowed to die. The ruling came two decades after judges ruled that Liverpool soccer fan Tony Bland, from Keighley, West Yorkshire - left in a permanent vegetative state after being crushed at the 1989 Hillsborough disaster - could be allowed to die.

Mr Justice Hayden will announce his decision in London on Wednesday.

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