Church ‘heart­ened’ as as­sisted dy­ing bill fails

The Church of England - - NEWS -

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.”

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