The move was opposed by other family members, including his mother, who lives in Poland.
The family members raised their objects unsuccessfully at a Court of Appeal hearing on Dec. 23 and applied twice without success to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.
Christian Concern, a U.K. nonprofit organization that offered support to the family members through its Christian Legal Centre, said in a Jan. 26 statement that RS had been deprived of fluids and nutrition since Jan. 13.
“Following a courageous legal and diplomatic battle fought by members of his family and the Polish government to have RS repatriated to Poland, RS lost his life just as Poland was seeking to enforce a judgment of its courts to have him airlifted to a Polish hospital for further treatment and care,” it said.
“Last night (Jan. 25), the family’s lawyers urgently wrote to the hospital’s lawyers, insisting that nutrition and fluids be reinstated in view of the diplomatic status granted by Poland and the decision of a Polish court. The hospital refused to re-commence life-sustaining treatment in the morning, and reported RS’s death later during the day.”
The organization quoted the patient’s mother as saying: “I am devastated that the British authorities have decided to dehydrate my son to death.”
“What the British authorities have done to my son is euthanasia by the back door. Depriving him of nutrition and hydration is functionally the same as giving him an injection to end his life, except that the entire process is longer, degrading and inhumane treatment.”
Christian Concern said that family members had recorded videos of RS during a hospital visit and asked Fr. Patrick Pullicino, a neurologist and Catholic priest, to interpret them. He concluded that the videos indicated “a clear emotional response to the presence of family members” and recommended further tests.
But at a hearing on Dec. 30, the hospital said that the patient’s condition had not changed and the judge rejected suggestions that RS should be moved to Poland.
Government officials had sought to intervene amid a mounting outcry about the case in Poland. Proposals included giving RS a diplomatic passport, removing him from the jurisdiction of U.K. courts.
There were also legal moves in Warsaw aimed at paving the way for RS to be brought to the country.
The case also raised alarm among Catholic bioethicists and bishops.
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The Anscombe Bioethics Centre in Oxford issued a press release and briefing paper on Jan. 12 raising concerns about the moral reasoning of the judges in the case.
David Albert Jones, the center’s director, said that the judgment set “a very worrying precedent.”
“The grave danger of this judgment is that committed Catholics and those who hold a similar view about the human significance of food and drink may be starved and dehydrated to death against their will,” he wrote.
Two days later, Bishop Mark O’Toole of Plymouth, the patient’s local bishop, also described the ruling as “very worrying.”
“My prayers are with the patient, his wife and family, and for all those involved in his care. The decision of the court to allow for the withdrawal of hydration and nutrition is very worrying. That it is deemed to be in the best interests of the patient more so,” he said in a Jan. 14 statement.
“Providing food and water to very sick patients -- even if by artificial means -- is a basic level of care. This is care that we must strive to give whenever possible.”