Right to Life Challenges Flawed UK Assisted Suicide Report

Press Release – Right To Life New Zealand Inc

Right to Life challenges a seriously flawed and biased report which calls for the legalisation of assisted suicide in the United Kingdom. The report was produced by the self-appointed Commission on Dying. The Commission was chaired by Lord Charles …8 January 2012

Media Release

Right to Life Challenges Flawed UK Assisted Suicide Report

Right to Life challenges a seriously flawed and biased report which calls for the legalisation of assisted suicide in the United Kingdom. The report was produced by the self-appointed Commission on Dying. The Commission was chaired by Lord Charles Falconer an ardent campaigner for legal assisted suicide. The other ten Commissioners were almost exclusively, known advocates of assisted suicide and euthanasia and were appointed by Lord Falconer.

The stated aim of the Commission was to ”investigate the circumstances under which it should be possible for people to be assisted to die.” The Commission sat for 12 months, received submissions and visited overseas jurisdictions where doctors were permitted to assist in the suicide of their patients. The Commission was instituted under the auspices of the assisted suicide advocacy group “Dignity in Dying” and was wholly funded by Sir Terry Pratchett, an author who in 2011, produced and starred in a documentary promoting assisted suicide named “Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die.”

The Commission concluded that the current legal status of assisted suicide is inadequate and incoherent and that assisted suicide should be made legal for persons over the age of 18, who are mentally competent, who have been diagnosed as being terminally ill, who are expected to die within 12 months and who have made a voluntary decision to be assisted in their suicide.

The Commission’s report has been rejected by the Right Reverend James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle and spokesperson on health care topics for the Church of England. He said the Commission excluded anyone who objected to legalising assisted suicide and the report “singularly failed “ to provide evidence that vulnerable people would be protected under the new proposals.

“Put simply the most effective safeguard against abuse is to leave the law as it is.” The Catholic Church upholds the dignity and inalienable right to life of every person from conception to natural death. It is the constant teaching of the Church that compassion should be extended to the terminally ill and to the aged and disabled. It is totally opposed to assisted killing.

The report has been dismissed as biased and seriously flawed by pro-life organisations. Dr Saunders, director of Care Not Killing, said “these recommendations if implemented will place vulnerable people under increased pressure to end their lives so as not to be a burden on others. The right to die can so easily become the duty to die. ”Bernadette Smyth, director of Belfast’s Precious Life, said the report is another attack on the dignity of the weak and vulnerable, adding that the situation must never arise where the terminally-ill, disabled, or the elderly feel pressured by society to end their lives. This is part of a culture of death that is attempting to change attitudes in society, to the position where killing the weak and vulnerable becomes normal and acceptable. Britain’s Right to Life spokesperson, Phyllis Bowman states that the Commission is naïve in accepting the claims made by the providers of euthanasia in Holland, Switzerland, Belgium and in Oregon that they had no evidence of patients being pressured or unduly influenced in opting to be killed.

The Commission’s report should be seen as promoting a culture of death, that is a threat to the life of every person. It seeks to influence public attitudes to accept that there are lives unworthy of living. The legalising of assisted suicide is but the first step in achieving their final objective of allowing doctors to kill their patients. It is cheaper to kill patients than to care for them. The Dutch government is considering providing mobile euthanasia units as there are many persons with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease who are being missed by the euthanasia laws. The mobile units would allow these patients to be “treated” in their own homes. In Holland in 2009 there were 2636 patients killed by their doctor including 400 where the doctor assisted in the patient’s suicide. There were also 500 patients who were killed by their doctor without the knowledge or consent of the patient or their family. These figures are conservative as many cases are simply not reported.

It is expected that the British Parliament will reject this biased report. There are those in our New Zealand community who will use this discredited Commission’s report to pressure our New Zealand Parliament to allow doctors to kill their patients or assist in their suicide.

If we are not vigilant such action will result in the culture of death expanding from the killing of the unborn to the killing of the elderly and unwell. The alternative to the threatening culture of death, is a culture of life which recognises that life is a gift from the Creator which respects the dignity of every person. We must ensure that we continue to provides compassionate and loving care for the terminally ill including high quality palliative care to ensure that they truly have death with dignity.

Ken Orr

Spokesperson,

Right to Life New Zealand Inc.

ENDS

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