Baroness Campbell of Surbiton, founder of Not Dead Yet UK, commented that the bill “would alter society’s view of those in vulnerable circumstances by signalling that assisted suicide is something that they might or ought to consider”.
“Disabled people with terminal conditions or progressive conditions like mine are alarmed by the misleading narrative of autonomy and choice,” she said, and “We must not abandon those who can benefit from high-quality health and social care to the desperate temptation of assisted suicide in the guise of a compassionate choice.”
She has also said that were the bill passed, it “would run counter to our duty to protect those in the most vulnerable situations, and would exacerbate their fears, through insidious pressure, of being regarded as an expendable burden. As has happened elsewhere, the Bill would doubtless be extended.”
“No major disability rights group in the UK supports legalising assisted suicide. What they support is immediate and sustained improvement in their care. Now is not the time to abandon them to the desperate temptation of an assisted suicide under the guise of compassion.”
Multiple prominent, public demonstrations of opposition to the bill occurred this week ahead of its second reading.
A group of some 1,700 British doctors wrote to the UK Health Secretary saying they would not participate in assisted suicide were it legalized.
“The shift from preserving life to taking life is enormous and should not be minimised...Some patients may never consider assisted suicide unless it was suggested to them. The cruel irony of this path is that legislation introduced with the good intention of enhancing patient choice will diminish the choices of the most vulnerable,” the letter read.
And Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, along with Justin Welby, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, and Ephraim Mirvis, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, recently wrote a joint letter to peers “to express our profound disquiet at the provisions of the ‘Assisted Dying’ Bill currently in the House of Lords.”
Assisted suicide is illegal in England and Wales, and doctors who assist a suicide can be jailed up to 14 years under the Suicide Act 1961. In 2015 the British parliament rejected a bill that would have legalized assisted suicide for patients with a terminal diagnosis, by a vote of 330 to 118. Parliament has consistently rejected efforts to change the law.
In September 2020 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reaffirmed the Church’s perennial teaching on the sinfulness of euthanasia and 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 been opposed to assisted suicide since 2006.
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