.- Archbishop of Cardiff Peter Smith has written a letter to The Times voicing his concern that changes to a bill intended to regulate websites that encourage suicide will âhijackâ the proposal by protecting those who assist in suicides in other countries.
Archbishop Smithâs March 20 letter to The Times explained that the Coroners and Justice Bill aims to bring within the law âpredatory internet websites that promote or encourage suicide.â
According to The Guardian, the proposed change to the bill, made by former health secretary Patricia Hewitt, says that any act âdone solely or principally for the purpose of enabling or assisting (an individual) to travel to a country or territory in which assisted dying is lawful" would not be treated as "encouraging or assistingâ a suicide. It reportedly is backed by more than 100 Ministers of Parliament.
In his letter, the archbishop said that defenders of suicide argue there is a difference between âmalicious encouragement of suicideâ and assistance with suicide âin compassionate circumstances.â
âThe real world just isnât like that,â he said, arguing that lawmakers must take into account the seriously ill or incapacitated elderly parent who feels guilty at the âburden of care,â or the relative whose suicide could be âsubtly encouragedâ by others in order to secure an inheritance.
âPeople like this have already heard suggestions from one eminent advocate of legalised euthanasia that sufferers from dementia are wasting NHS resources and the lives of others, and should consider whether they have a duty to die,â he warned.
âAs things stand, they have the lawâs protection: assisting suicide is illegal. But, if it is made legal in certain situations, that would open a door not just for the self-possessed and self-confident minority who are sure they want it, but for many more who might persuade themselves, or be subtly persuaded by others, that that is the best course for them â and for those around them,â Archbishop Smithâs letter concluded.