Assisted Suicide Bill raises serious questions

Posted On 18 Sep 2021 at 6:40 am

There has been much coverage of the Assisted Suicide Bill, currently making its way through the House of Lords. It is important that we take action to challenge this proposed legislation.

It is also vital that we affirm our support for the best possible end-of-life care, including spiritual and pastoral support for those who are dying and for their families.

This has been made all the more urgent as a result of the decision by the British Medical Association to take a neutral position on this issue, albeit by the narrowest of margins.

The Catholic Church remains opposed to any form of assisted suicide. It is a crime against human life and we cannot directly choose to take the life of another, even if they request it.

It is the case that, in this country as in many others, we have a growing elderly population. The needs of the elderly and the needs of those who live with disability have been highlighted further during the course of the covid-19 pandemic.

The bill currently being considered raises serious questions about society’s ability to protect those who are most vulnerable.

We must ask how the law can ensure that a person will be free from pressure to end their life prematurely due to perceptions about “quality” or “worth” of life and will not feel the need to act out of a sense of “being a burden” to family and to the wider society.

In this context, it is important for us all to reach out to those who may feel isolated or lonely, enabling them to recognise their value and the contribution their experience and wisdom brings to others.

We have seen, in recent years, the impact of “assisted suicide” legislation in other parts of the world such as Belgium, Canada and the State of Oregon.

Evidence shows that the introduction of laws for “small numbers of cases” has inevitably led to an exponential growth in those seeking “assisted dying”.

The state of Oregon has seen an increase of 1,075 per cent in “assisted deaths” between 1998 and 2019, Belgium has seen a 925 per cent increase between 2002 and 2019 and in Canada the increase in only four years between 2016 and 2020 has been 648 per cent.

These are deeply concerning figures and are accompanied by an expansion of grounds, to include assisted suicide for children, non-terminal illness and non-terminal psychiatric illness.

We should be in no doubt that any legislation to permit assisted suicide in our own country would take us in the same direction.

This country has a fine tradition and experience in end-of-life care, rooted in the care and compassion that is at the core of our humanity.

This is seen when the best possible care is available, that all may be enabled to come to the end of their lives with the best of pain relief, surrounded by family, whether in hospital, hospice or at home. The provision of this care should be a priority.

As followers of Christ, we recognise the sanctity of life in all around us. This must urge us to call everyone to this place of compassion, to the greatest care and respect for the most vulnerable in our society. The work of opposing this bill demands our prayerful support and action.

You can find out more and gain information as to the best possible way to oppose the bill on the website of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

Richard Moth is the Roman Catholic Bishop of Arundel and Brighton.

  1. Bear Road resident Reply

    “As followers of Christ, we recognise the sanctity of life in all around us” – Really? How many millions have been tortured, abused and murdered at the hands of the Catholic Church during its history…
    You stick to your delusion of choice bishop but leave the rest of us to make our choices of how we live and end our lives based on rationality not viscous superstition…

  2. dree Reply

    I hold no brief for the bishop, but I’d be surprised to learn he’s tortured, abused or murdered anyone, and it’s quite a leap of logic to blame him for the faults and failings of others, whether Catholic, Christian, British or anything else. It’s a bit like blaming a young German for the holocaust, or a middle-aged Spaniard today for the abuses of the Conquistadors. To do so is a type of prejudice, and religious prejudice is every bit as vile and poisonous as racial prejudice.

    • Da Wind Reply

      What on earth are you on about?
      The fact he wears a uniform of an organisation, recognised as a serial abuser of Children worldwide; permits anyone to have the moral right to question his motives! Ergo, there is no such thing as religious prejudice when it relates to the Catholic Church!
      The fact that he ,de facto, condones the illegal activities of his chosen organisation should debar him from any say in the choice which lawful human beings may choose to debate,and hopefully legislate, for.

  3. val Reply

    Gosh, Bear Road resident, a somewhat bilious comment! What has any of that got to do with the Bishop of Arundel and Brighton?!? The reality is the law regulates our lives, including what help we can give to those who are dying. Personally, I’m torn, as the possibility of abusing any relaxation of the law is a glaringly obvious risk, but I also worry about the way we medically prolong life while not always able to relieve discomfort and pain. The Bishop’s article is pretty measured, unlike your rather unpleasant comment, which to be blunt says a great deal more about you than anything else.

  4. Bear Road resident Reply

    My point was that the Catholic Church has been responsible for an untold number of deaths over the last millennium (for instance everyone was rightly horrified when so called Islamic state burnt a number of prisoners to death but the Catholic Church routinely burnt people alive for the “crime” of disagreeing with it). It is currently frantically doing its best to deal with the abuse and murders carried out in its “orphanages” around the world. I could go on endlessly about all the crimes against humanity carried out by this organisation and I think that for a representative of it to claim that “As followers of Christ, we recognise the sanctity of life in all around us” is starching the truth to breaking point.

  5. Hoveguy Reply

    On the one hand this article enrages me with the catholic church perpetuating their usual ‘holier than thou’ attitude – telling other people what they should and shouldn’t do, but on the other hand it makes me realise how utterly unimportant the church is in modern life. Thank goodness, more and more people are rejecting the utterly evil, devastating influence of this horrific institution that has caused untold misery since its inception.

    And the Bear Road Resident is right a) in terms of the influence of the church and b) how utterly ridiculous it would be for the church to choose how we live or die. And the comparison to a young German being blamed for the holocaust is interesting. Germany, as a nation, has gone through a massive grieving process and young Germans are taught about the horrors of the past.

    The church on the other hand continues to deny, lie, obfuscate and victim-blame for most of the atrocities perpetuated in its name. So in my view, any member of the church is just as guilty as those who directly caused the horrors including genocide, racism, homophobia, paedophilia and so on and so on. But that’s OK, you just keep taking your ‘tithe’ to ensure entry to heaven.

    • Hove Guy Reply

      Although I agree with everything you say, I would like to point out that I am the other Hove Guy (a non-follower of Christ).

  6. Mark Reply

    In all fairness that has been written from the point of view of a strong Christian religious point of view. I can respect that.
    However the ‘followers of Christ’ do not represent everyone in this country. They are certainly not the majority, and probably a minority in such a staunch way.
    If I am dying and in pain I would more than welcome the ability not not have to prolong my agony in a confused morphine haze. Where is the dignity or quality of life in that. I certainly wouldn’t want my family to have to witness that either. To deny me that choice would be the sin. If religion is to claim to be compassionate then where is that compassion? Certainly not in this stance.

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