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This is the reply from the BMA:

Thank you for your email about our conference.  The scenario we are debating raises a very large number of issues and interests.  The acted scenario will be done in such a way as to answer key questions from the partner of the person in MCS,  in very short interventions. This is intended to set the scene for the discussion not, in any way, to address all of the issues.  That is why we have allowed 90 minutes for debate and discussion in which we hope and expect all of these issues will be raised.  This part of the session will be very participatory – not simple questions and answers – but will give the opportunity for full and proper debate about this very difficult subject.

Hmm.

I would reiterate that this is a session over an entire morning:

…the morning session will look at withdrawing artificial nutrition and hydration from patients in a minimally conscious state….

And there are three speakers; two doctors and a lawyer. The invited audience is more doctors and medical students. Is it really likely that this is the kind of audience which will raise the issues pertinent to the disabled?

It’s not as if there aren’t plenty of people who could speak at this debate. Tom Shakespeare springs to mind, as does Dennis Queen.

Imagine this:

Thank you for your email about our conference: Women, their lives and careers.  The scenario we are debating raises a very large number of issues and interests.  The acted scenario will be done in such a way as to answer key questions from the male partner of a woman,  in very short interventions. This is intended to set the scene for the discussion not, in any way, to address all of the issues.  That is why we have allowed 90 minutes for debate and discussion between our male audience and all-male panel in which we hope and expect all of these issues relating to the management of women will be raised.  This part of the session will be very participatory – not simple questions and answers – but will give the opportunity for full and proper debate amongst all men about this very difficult subject.

Or:

Thank you for your email about our conference What to do about Black People.  The scenario we are debating raises a very large number of issues and interests.  The acted scenario will be done in such a way as to answer key questions from a white owner of a business with black employees,  in very short interventions. This is intended to set the scene for the discussion, not, in any way, to address all of the issues involved in employing black people.  That is why we have allowed 90 minutes for debate and discussion between our white panel and white audience in which we hope and expect all of these issues will be raised.  This part of the session will be very participatory – not simple questions and answers – but will give the opportunity for full and proper debate amongst white people about this very difficult subject.

The person under discussion in this scenario is disabled. That is the whole reason for this debate; it is not incidental to the situation, it is central. I am not saying that life at all costs is necessarily the right decision, and I am not trying to take an all-or-nothing standpoint. What I am saying is that the point that is central to the debate is, as ever, being ignored. Our attitudes towards disability and dependency, our own fear of death, our need to distance ourselves from the severely disabled so we can inflict things that they neither choose nor welcome, are never questioned in these debates.

And they should be.

Is it really that hard to grasp?

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