“The common good is not served by policies or actions that would place very many vulnerable people in more vulnerable positions,” they maintained. "In contrast to the proposals in this Bill, we continue to call for measures to make high-quality palliative care available to all at the end of their lives. We believe that the aim of a compassionate society should be assisted living rather than an acceptance of assisted suicide.”
The trade union for doctors in the United Kingdom, as of September, is no longer officially opposed to the legalization of assisted suicide. The British Medical Association has adopted a “neutral” stance on the issue, following a narrow vote at its annual representative meeting. The body had previously been opposed to assisted suicide since 2006.
The Catholic Church supports, rather than assisted suicide or euthanasia, palliative care, which means seeking to accompany a patient towards the end of their lives with methods such as pain management. While firmly opposing euthanasia, Catholics do not believe life must always be prolonged with burdensome medical treatment.
Pope Francis has described assisted suicide as part of a "throwaway culture" that offers a "false compassion" and treats a human person as a problem.
The Catholic bishops of the UK have on several occasions affirmed their support for high quality end-of-life care, which includes spiritual and pastoral support for the one who is dying and their family. Lord Rowan Williams, an Anglican and former Archbishop of Canterbury, is another notable opponent of legalized assisted suicide in the UK.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's September 2020 letter Samaritanus bonus reaffirmed the Church's perennial teaching on the sinfulness of euthanasia and assisted suicide. The congregation recalled the obligation of Catholics to accompany the sick and dying through prayer, physical presence, and the sacraments.
Some English bishops— as well as the signers of the letter— have pointed out that other countries, such as Canada, have shown how assisted suicide “safeguards” could be swept away, extending assisted suicide far beyond the terminally ill.
In March 2021, Canada stripped the requirement that people seeking assisted suicide must have a “reasonably foreseeable” death, and also allowed people to opt for assisted suicide with mental illness as a sole underlying condition.
And this month, in the United States, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law loosening several safeguarding requirements surrounding assisted suicide. The California Catholic Conference had been strongly urging opposition to the legal change.