It is a favourite myth of some assisted suicide enthusiasts to suggest that those who oppose doctors helping their patients to kill themselves, do so for religious reasons and that were it not for the bishops in the Lords, assisted suicide would be law by now. But the reality is that when the House of Lords last held a major vote on the issue in May 2006, Lord Joffe’s Bill was defeated by a majority of 48 votes and would have still been defeated had the 14 bishops present at the time not voted.
To persist in suggesting that a powerful religious lobby in the Lords is preventing the “right-to-die” from entering the statute book is simply untrue. Some of the most persuasive opponents of assisted suicide include Lord Carlile of Berriew, Baroness Campbell of Surbiton and Lord Winston who are not religious but recognize through their personal and professional experience the dangers which such a law poses. If this Bill progresses to the House of Commons you may be surprised to hear members such as Diane Abbot who is a vocal proponent of abortion rights, speak against the Bill.
Toynbee tells us today that “the right to die is the last great freedom still to be won by my generation, before we all drop off the perch”.
If Toynbee is determined to win this “freedom” she is at liberty to try. But she must also respect that many of us seriously fear, for evidence-based, common-sense reasons, that beneath this “freedom” lurks the stench of coercion and that such a law would prove a perversion of freedom; a tool for oppressing the weak and the vulnerable. To zealously dismiss oppossition to assisted suicide on the basis that it is driven by religious belief is inaccurate as is it tedious.
Polly’s pearls of wisdom are never in short supply, especially on this subject, so I’m sure that we can expect a steady flow over the following months. But in future, could she please stick to the facts rather than perpetuating boring myths?
Having been unable to sell in churches for well over a year due to the pandemic, we are now inviting readers to support the Herald by investing in our future. We have been a bold and influential voice in the church since 1888, standing up for traditional Catholic culture and values.
Please join us on our 130 year mission by supporting us. We are raising £250,000 to safeguard the Herald as a world-leading voice in Catholic journalism and teaching. For more information from our chairman on contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund, click here
Make a Donation
Donors giving £500 or more will automatically become sponsor patrons of the Herald. This includes two complimentary print/digital gift subscriptions, invitations to Patron events, pilgrimages and dinners, and 6 gift subscriptions sent to priests, seminaries, Catholic schools, religious care homes and prison and university chaplaincies. Click here for more information on becoming a Patron Sponsor. Click here for more information about contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund