Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury is urging “all those who value the sanctity of human life and desire the best care and support for the sick and dying” to oppose an “assisted dying” Bill that is expected to be introduced into the House of Lords on Wednesday.
“The Bill comes at the end of a public health crisis where all our efforts have been directed towards safeguarding the vulnerable,” the Bishop writes in a statement released Monday. “To remove legal protections in legislating for assisted suicide will take away a shield from some of the most vulnerable members of society.”
The private member’s Bill, which will be introduced by Baroness Meacher, would permit terminally ill, mentally competent adults determined to be in the last six months of life, to have access to lethal drugs to commit suicide, with the permission of two doctors and a High Court judge. It would overturn a 1961 law that makes it a criminal offence to help people kill themselves.
“The language employed in seeking this seismic change in the law is one of compassion, knowing that no one is opposed to the relief of human suffering,” said Bishop Davies in his statement. “However, the fact this legislation is being proposed in Parliament by the Chair of what was the Voluntary Euthanasia Society should leave us in no doubt as to the goal” of medical killing of the sick and aged.
Opponents of euthanasia fear that any supposed “safeguards” against indiscriminate medically assisted suicide would prove futile or be quickly removed, as has routinely happened in other jurisdictions where the practice has been permitted. In places where it has been legalised, even in very restricted circumstances, euthanasia and assisted suicide have often been extended to new classes of people, including children and the mentally ill.
“If Parliament were ever persuaded to legalise Assisted Suicide, we should be in no doubt as to the moral line that would be crossed,” Bishop Davies said. “A line that has never been legally crossed in our care of the sick and elderly since the foundation of our society.”