Friday, January 29, 2010

so why was she in court?

"If you have a body...then it has to be tested in court."

That's what Anne Widdecombe said on TV earlier this week on another subject, but it provides a perfect answer to the question Caroline Gammell posed in the Telegraph: Why was Kay Gilderdale in court charged with attempted murder?

A month after the Director of Public Prosecutions issued guidelines on assisted suicide that SPUC said "legally downgrade the right to life of disabled or terminally-ill people", Kay Gilderdaleread why protection against assisted suicide must stay on John Smreaton's blog's daughter Lynn - who had chronic myalgic encepalopathy (ME or chronic fatigue syndrome - took an overdose of her prescribed morphine, at which point Gilderdale mater then fed her sleeping-pills and antidepressants and injected air into her veins. She was cleared by a jury on Monday 25 January.

My first reaction to the headline was to wonder why the woman might not be in court for attempted murder at least, but it was interesting to read on and find out that a spokesman for another mother who had killed her child shortly beforehand commented: "Frances’s conviction and sentence were wrong and for this lady it seems they have got it right".

The lady in question is Frances Inglis, who is also referenced in the Guardian's treatment of the Mrs Gildpolice pic of Frances Inglis - click to read how jurors were heckled in courterdale, where we learn that Mrs Inglis bought two grams of heroin from dealers and injected her son with it.

The Disability Matters blog, however, fleshes out some details about what happened after Inglis' son, became brain-damaged after either falling out of or jumping from the ambulance that had come for him after he'd been in a fight:
Frances Inglis...immediately became obsessed with ending his life, repeatedly making the case to anyone who would listen that she did not think any treatment was in her son's best interest. She visited her son almost constantly and was described by Thomas’ brother, Alexander, as "obsessive and negative."

Only 10 days after the accident, Inglis decided that she had to “put her son out of his misery.” So she injected him with a lethal dose of morphine. While Thomas was successfully resuscitated, he had been without oxygen long enough that his brain damage was much worse...Out on bail, a condition of which was that she go nowhere near Thomas, she disguised herself as Thomas' aunt, fooled the nurses, and injected Thomas with a fatal dose of heroin.
Two grams of heroin is a prodigious amount but, even if only a quarter-pure, it would be a massive overdose. One only hopes that the material with which the heroin was "cut" - and cut it certainly was, as she bought it from dealers - wasn't medically active click here if you're having problems with heroinand didn't cause any seizures as the boy passed away.

Pro-euthanasia campaigners would reply that if physician-assisted suicide were legal, Thomas would have been given pharmaceutical diamorphine (heroin), but, given the material above, it's by no means certain that a doctor would have considered Thomas eligible - although in a chilling caveat, Richard Normington quotes Dr Reginaclick to read Doctors who Kill by Regina Dwyer on the New York Times site Dwyer's conclusion to a New York Times article on doctors who kill:
In the end, we doctors are no different than the rest of you. We probably turn killer less often than most other occupations. But our ranks have and will always include the deeply flawed, the greedy, the delusional, bunglers, rationalizers and just plain sociopaths - like every other population.
But the issue isn't doctor-assisted suicide, as opposed as I am to that. It's how we prevent, in some cases, abuse of the effective power that members of the above categories have to kill the sick relative of their choice, and in others - given assisted-suicide supporter Jamie Dettmer's assertion that Mrs. Gilderdale had sought to dissuade her bedridden daughter, Lynn, from wanting to end [her] life - people wracked by pain and despair and in crisis from unintentionally applying emotional blackmail upon their loved ones to act with lethal effect upon them.

James Stewart as Buttons: click for an analysis of the sad clown in cultureI'm sure Kay Gilderdale and Frances Inglis are, possibly in different ways, occupying somewhere resembling hell right now. Cecil B De Mille, for example, in his 1952 The Greatest Show on Earth, presented a visual interpretation of a self-assumed mark of Cain in Buttons the Clown's smiley face perpetually masking the lugubrious demeanour of somebody who has "killed the thing he loved".

That's why killing sick or disabled people, although it has always happened, has always been fenced in by a taboo which the Establishment is dismantling to all of our peril.

And, for all the guidelines revolving around assisted suicide and living wills, that's why Kay Gilderdale was in court charged with attempted murder.


  1. According to the book Papua New Guinea, one of the tribal chiefs boasted about how he'd put his aging parents out of their misery, and what a good son he was, for honoring their remains with a place in his household. 'course, they were also proud cannibals....

  2. Wow - that sort of compassion I can do without!

  3. Mrs Inglis not only KILLED HER CHILD but caused more suffering for him. This is, without question, horrific. I have known people to talk of lethal morphine doses, sleeping pills and the like, but YOUR CHILD?! HEROINE?! We are a barbaric people, are we not?

  4. Agree wholeheartedly, Linda. There's a deeper pathology than misplaced compassion here: I suppose we loose the gates around our inner dragons at our own - and everybody else's - risk.


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