Marlowe's Shade

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A Chorus of Opposition to Euthanasia in the UK

Leaders of different faiths have joined the outcry agains the euthanasia bill being proposed in Parliment.

Major faith groups in the United Kingdom published a joint letter to both Houses of Parliament on Friday in a bid to lobby against legalizing any forms of euthanasia ahead of this week’s debate on the proposed Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill in the House of Lords.

"We, the undersigned, hold all human life to be sacred and worthy of the utmost respect and note with concern that repeated attempts are being made to persuade Parliament to change the law on intentional killing so as to allow assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia for those who are terminally ill," the letter read, according to the Church of England.

Nine leading figures from the six major faith groups in the U.K., representing millions of adherents, addressed all Members of Parliament and of the House of Lords concerning the moral crisis over such legislation.

The leaders include General Director of Evangelical Alliance UK Joel Edwards, Archbishop of Cardiff of the Catholic Church in Great Britain Peter Smith, Bishop of Southwark of the Church of England the Rev. Tom Butler, His Eminence Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira and Great Britain, the Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, Principal Muslim College and Chair Muslim Law Sharia Council Sheikh Dr M.A. Zaki Badawi and among others

Chief Rabbi Sacks was particularly eloquent in his defense of the sanctity of life:

Drawing a stark contrast between Yom Kippur when Jews ask for life and say it is G-d who decides who will die, the Chief Rabbi said: “On the face of it what could be more compassionate than to give someone wracked with pain the choice to bid life a gracious farewell? Yet there are times when the most honourable motive can't change a wrong into a right.”

Describing the pain of watching his father’s battle, he said: “He was a proud man who hated being a burden to others. How easy it would have been for him to spare us those final tormenting days. I can see him doing it. Yet he would have been so wrong – because, more than anything else, we wanted to be there with him in his suffering giving back some of the care he'd given us when we were young.

“He would have missed the last conversation we had, when I was able to tell him that our son, his eldest grandchild, had just got engaged, and he smiled, and the years fell away and for a moment he was like a young man again.”

Principled medical professionals have also put forth strong arguments against the bill, such as in this letter to The Guardian:

The bill to legalise assistance with dying, currently before the House of Lords, arises from the argument that to deny assistance is to deny the autonomy, or right to choose, of an individual. Proponents describe this denial as dehumanising, as though exercise of autonomy alone is the mark of human personhood. The humanising aspect of choice is its potential for nobility: as humans, we can reflect on our being and on the consequences of our choices. The right to choose to die with medical assistance, when placed in this context, must be weighed against the nobility of relinquishing this right if its commission would damage other, possibly more vulnerable, members of our society.
The person who is more vulnerable is the person with a terminal illness who acknowledges that the part of their life that is without suffering is over, but who is now afraid that other, powerful people may assume that they would prefer death to continuing to live in this way.

The current law presumes that life should not deliberately be ended. This protects thousands of dying people from any anxiety or uneasy self-doubt that they may be selfish not to opt for euthanasia and relieve their loved ones of a burden of care. It protects doctors from the accusation that we act to end life as we carefully adjust the doses of sedatives that are sometimes needed to control pain for terminally ill people.

To change the law so that euthanasia is permissible would immediately remove these protections, for the benefit of a small but vocal number of patients who would value their own autonomy above the protection of those even more vulnerable than themselves. This bill is clearly grounded in compassion, but it is compassion without clear vision. For the sake of the human dignity of those most vulnerable in our society, legalisation of assisted dying should not be permitted.
Dr Kathryn Mannix
Newcastle upon Tyne

We hope and pray the message gets across that better palliative care and spiritual support are the answer to the concerns of dying patients.
papijoe 7:01 AM