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JULY 2015

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New Bill on Assisted Dying

Christians Called to Action






Every year, the House of Commons holds a ballot for MPs who wish to introduce a Private Members Bill (a change to the law introduced not by the Government, but by an individual MP). This year, Rob Marris, Labour MP for Wolverhampton South West, won the top of the ballot and has introduced a Bill to allow assisted suicide, for mentally competent adults deemed to have less than six months to live. This is essentially a copy of the law proposed by Lord Falconer in the House of Lords in the last Parliament. @


The Bill received its First Reading (where the Bill is printed) in the House of Commons on 24th June. The Second Reading (debate on the principle of the Bill) is currently scheduled to take place on 11th September at which point there will be a vote on the legislation.


Following the second reading of Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill, Care Not Killing (CNK) produced a leaflet, “Don’t make Oregon’s mistake - Ten reasons why the UK should not follow suit and legalise assisted suicide.” In it they write, “Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill ….  is purportedly based on the US state of Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act. Dignity in Dying, the former Voluntary Euthanasia Society, who are backing Lord Falconer, claim that everything is wonderful in Oregon. But is that really true? In fact, far from being reassuring, the Oregon experience sounds a loud warning to the UK not to follow suit.”


“Right to Die” or “Duty to Die”?

CNK provide ten evidence based reasons why the UK should not follow suit and legalise assisted suicide. @  One reason cited in opposition to the Bill is that the right to die can in fact become a duty to die. In 1998 Oregon State Public Health Division reported that 13% of patients applying for medication to commit suicide did so because they were frightened of being a burden on their families. This percentage has substantially increased to the extent that in 2014 almost four times more patients (40%) were opting for assisted suicide for this reason.  In 2012 it went as high as 57.1%. Meanwhile, in Washington State, which also uses a similar system, the most recent figure for this reason cited by those opting for assisted suicide is 61%. @


Don’t be complacent on assisted suicide

Nola Leach,CEO of CARE, has urged Christians to avoid complacency in the battle against repeated attempts to legalise assisted suicide. She has drawn a parallel with the 1967 Abortion Act, suggesting there was complacency amongst those who opposed abortion and pointing out that Christians and others have had to live with the consequences of that complacency ever since.


She said, “Christians have always understood that life is a gift from God and therefore it is undeniably precious.


“It is the duty of the law to protect people and to protect the value of life so legalising assisted suicide is a change to the very nature of the role of law itself.


“History gives us a very clear warning because if you think back to 1967, many people did not think legalising abortion would have the sort of disastrous consequences it has done.


“Maybe, because previous attempts to legalise assisted suicide have been defeated, my concern is that we sleepwalk into a situation where the law is changed and suddenly people can legally end their own life; and to my mind this would be a tragedy.


“If we want to see this latest attempt to change the law on assisted suicide defeated and if we are serious about protecting vulnerable people, we must shun complacency and make our voice heard now.” @


Christian Views on Euthanasia

Care have produced two booklets exploring what the Bible has to say about euthanasia and assisted suicide.  One is written by Dr. Peter Saunders, Chief Executive of the Christian Medical Fellowship, and the other by Chris Buttenshaw, a member of CARE's Public Affairs team.  Both are available, free of charge, from the CARE website.


Leading Opposition

The Pro-Life Research Unit point out that the introduction of assisted suicide is opposed by almost every major medical body, as well as leading palliative care organisations, and campaigning groups for the elderly and disabled: the Royal College of Physicians @, the Royal College of General Practitioners @, the British Medical Association @, the World Medical Association @, the British Geriatric Society @, Scope @, the UK Disabled People’s Council @ and Not Dead Yet UK @.


Downing Street made clear that the Bill would not be given Government support, with Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman saying he was “concerned that legislation may push people into things they do not actually want for themselves”.


SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon voted against assisted suicide in Scotland and former Liberal Democrat party leader Nick Clegg has spoken out against the practice. @


Urgent Request for Action

Fiona Bruce, MP has issued an urgent request for action. The full content of the e-mail is reproduced here. Please read it and act on it.