Church ‘heartened’ as assisted dying bill fails
THE CHURCH of England said it was ‘heartened’ by last Friday’s defeat of the Assisted Dying Bill.
The Rt Rev James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle and lead bishop on health care issues, said: “We are heartened that MPs have decided not to change the law on assisted suicide.”
Rob Marris’ Private Member Bill failed with a vote of 330 against to 118 in favour. In a statement Bishop Newcombe said: “We believe that the proposals contained in the Assisted Dying Bill would have exposed already vulnerable people to increased risk”.
The Bishop said that the vote would send a strong signal that the right approach towards supporting the terminally ill is to offer compassion and support through better palliative care. “We believe that all of us need to redouble our efforts on that front,” he said.
Speaking ahead of the debate the Archbishop of Canterbury told the BBC that the Bill will lead to an ‘accidental devaluation of the intrinsic value of life.’
The Rev Canon Peter Holliday, Group Chief Executive of St Giles Hospice in Lichfield and Deputy Chair of Hospice UK, warned: “Rue the day when funding becomes dependent upon hospices’ willingness to facilitate assisted dying.”
He claimed that funding streams from the NHS have been chipped away in recent years and those remaining have become more dependent upon doing things in the way the NHS requires.
MPs spoke emotively and conscientiously during the debate. Steve Brine, Conservative MP for Winchester told the Commons that his Christian conscience played a part in his consideration of the bill. Speaking during the debate, Conservative MP for Meriden, Church Commissioner Caroline Spelman argued that MPs should question what value society is placing on the Christian principle of ‘honour thy parents’, to representatives voicing concerns over wrongfully coerced elder relatives.
Commenting for leading anti-euthanasia group, SPUC-Pro Life, Paul Tully said: “This was an important victory for true compassion.”
He said the result was a vote to affirm healthcare staff. He added that the campaign against this bill has helped to highlight the failings in support that can leave people feeling frustrated and suicidal.
“Along with ongoing efforts to improve pallia- tive care for people in terminal illness, the demands for improvements in this area must be heeded.
“However, it would be foolish to think that better palliative care and better support for disabled people will stop the euthanasia lobby demanding medical killing.”
CEO of CARE, Nola Leach said: “The legalisation of assisted suicide would have been a fundamental departure from our nation’s compassionate heritage and a dangerous mistake to make.”
Dr Peter Saunders, Campaign Director of Care Not Killing, said: “We welcome this unequivocal rejection of this dangerous piece of legislation by the House of Commons.
“We hope Parliament will now turn its attention to the real issues facing our country of ensuring that everybody can access the very best care, regardless of whether they are disabled or terminally ill and that we fund this adequately.”