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synod votes against euthanasia

On Saturday evening, the General Synod considered the subject of euthanasia, in the context of legislation recently before the UK Parliament. Christopher Herbert, Bishop of St Albans opened the debate with this speech.

The synod briefing document is Assisted Suicide and Voluntary Euthanasia (RTF format)

A press release from the Diocese of St Albans is here

Press coverage:
Daily Mail Synod prays after rejecting bill

Press Association
Synod prays after rejecting bill
Euthanasia ‘motivated by cost’

The Archbishop of Canterbury said he fears moves towards legalising voluntary euthanasia were being motivated by the need for cost-cutting in healthcare.

Dr Rowan Williams reaffirmed his opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide at a meeting of the the General Synod of the Church of England, in York.

The archbishop said: “This is not simply a debate about medical ethics, it’s also about economic ethics.

“In a climate where the pressure is all towards a functionalised, reduced style of healthcare provision, this (assisted dying) must be a very, very tempting option to save money and resources.

“We have to be honest about this but we have to recognise that this is also an economic question and therefore a question about power.”

Speaker after speaker at The Synod spoke against the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill which was introduced by Lord Joffe in the House of Lords last year and is likely to return to parliament later this year.

Many members gave moving personal accounts of the deaths of terminally ill relatives before The Synod voted resoundingly to continue The Church’s opposition.

In September last year, Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops issued a joint statement opposing Lord Joffe’s Bill which concluded: “It is deeply misguided to propose a law by which it would be legal for terminally ill people to be killed or assisted in suicide by those caring for them.”

The Synod voted by 293 votes to just one to support that stance.

Liverpool Daily Post Church leaders’ attack on voluntary euthanasia Bill

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Tim
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I thought *I* was cynical, and then I read the above with Rowan Williams introducing the whole economical slant on it.

J. C. Fisher
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I feel 29 degrees of ambivalent about assisted suicide. On the one hand: I totally agree w/ the ABC, that the possibility of *economic imperatives* affecting this, are dangerous in the EXTREME. On the other: as someone who used to live in the (U.S.) State of Oregon, where it is legal (for now, anyway: though the Bush Administration would like to overturn the state law), I have heard many testimonies of seriously-ill/terminal patients, who feel a great sense of comfort by having the *option* of AS, if living becomes unbearable. But then there’s those medical professionals who say “with a… Read more »

Merseymike
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Merseymike

I’;m in favour of voluntary euthanasia, although I understand the difficulties of framing legislation. 80% of the public are sympathetic too, showing how, once more, out of touch the Church is. The problem which simply hasn’t been thought through is that medical technology has advanced to a stage where it is quite possible to keep people alive. But it is not possible to make their lives equally full in terms of quality. What we have at the moment is widespread euthanasia by default, unspoken , going on, but not acknowledged. I would add that I think there should be a… Read more »

John Henry
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John Henry

At present the syringe, the tablet or the draught in the hand of a medical professional spells comfort if not cure. But once legislation has created the possibility that these may be instruments of death, confidence will have gone. Rationality alone will not protect us from even groundless fear.

Merseymike
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Merseymike

If that is the case, why do 80% of the UK population now support voluntary euthanasia?

Tim Jones
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Tim Jones

Dear Merseymike, You seem to be suggesting that ethics are a purely democratic concern, as if a majority of people supporting something somehow make it morally acceptable. By that reckoning, the genocide in Rwanda was acceptable. The Church is hardly out of touch with the British populace; it is composed of them. Modern culture might today support something that is contrary to the Gospel ethics, but that indicates how uninfluential Christian teaching has become. The disparity between public opinion and the Church shows the need for the Church to reconnect to become more influential, not just amend its teaching to… Read more »

Dave
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Dave

MM – Truth and morality aren’t defined by majority voting ! Or we would still have the death penalty in the UK.

Merseymike
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Merseymike

No, that wasn’t what I was suggesting. The previous post to mine seemed to suggest that the population was terrified at the thought of doctors having this available to them. The enormous shift towards support for some sort of change in this area suggests that this is not the case. The difficulty is that despite their claims, palliative care is actually not very good at dealing with pain, and medical science has advanced to a level where it can keep people alive for many more years than before without being able to improve the quality of life lived in those… Read more »

Catholicus
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Catholicus

What needs to be mentioned here are some financial considerations. Care of the elderly is extremely expensive. It either swallows up the estates of those forced into full-time care, or consumes large proportions of the NHS and Social Services’ budgets. Many old people already feel guilty about the cost or are MADE to feel guilty by relatives who want their inheritance. If assisted suicide/voluntary euthanasia are made legal, then there will be colossal pressure on many people to consent to it: precisely because they are occupying a hospital bed, or spending the family inheritance on their care home arrangements. In… Read more »

Merseymike
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Merseymike

I think thats entriely fanciful, Catholicus. The usual scaremongering, justifying unnecessary and unwanted suffering, and removing the choice of the individual.

Of course, one thing which people can do is fill out a Living Will or Advanced directive explaining their wishes and directing the doctor in that direction.

Catholicus
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Catholicus

You may think it is fanciful. Do you have any experience or knowledge of caring for the elderly? Those I work with on a daily basis are already fearful of their carers and relatives. How much more frightening it would be if every doctor was a legalised Harold Shipman. Do you remember the debates about the Abortion Bill in 1967? It was said that it would only be used in a few, extreme cases each year – as much to protect the doctors against prosecution as to protect women whose lives were threatened by a pregnancy. Since then it has… Read more »

Dave
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Dave

I know a lady who had a “wonderful time” dying in a hospice! Palliatiove care can eliminate or greatly reduce pain in over 95% of cases I believe; and hugely increase the *value* of people’s dying days. I don’t think life should be extended artificially unless a patient is insistent; and I don’t see anything wrong with administering drugs to relieve pain at doses which may slightly shorten life (when it is short anyway). I also think every effort should be made to support people in their dying days (tidying up loose ends, saying good-bye to family and friends, doing… Read more »

Merseymike
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Merseymike

Better than unwanted and consistent suffering against their wishes, Catholicus,

Unlike you, I don’t wish to force others to follow my religious beliefs. I don’t believe in the catholic viewpoint on these issues (the ‘sanctity of life’is a meaningless slogan) and see no reason why I should be forced into them.

My father certainly didn’t have a ‘wonderful’ time dying in agony, pain not relieved, in the hospice. They did their best, but it wasn’t enough. Palliative care can be excellent – and if people have the choice, there is no reason why it should not continue to be available.

Catholicus
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Catholicus

“the ‘sanctity of life’ is a meaningless slogan” – so you are not a Christian, MM? Why inhabit a site labelled “Thinking Anglicans” if you are neither? The desire to protect life is, curiously enough from your point of view, not confined to religious believers. It affects everyone contemplating disease or old age, and it affects those who are now young, who may not wish to grow older in a society which simply puts people to sleep rather than pay the hospital bills. Those prepared to speak out against euthanasia may be a minority in this culture of death, but… Read more »

Martin Hambrook
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Martin Hambrook

Catholicus: are you ANOTHER one smoking out Mike as a non-Christian troll or agent provocateur? So strangely for a site called ‘Thinking Anglicans’, his comments are consistently non-theological and secularist-individualist. There is the echo or shadow of faith in his words, but it is very weak now, and his views are practically indistinguishable from the bien-pensant pagan reared in a Christian home but now rejecting that heritage.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Mike – you have my sympathies; it must be horrible to see someone you love suffer so badly.

In principle I think doctors should be encouraged to use whatever means necessary to relieve horrendous suffering, even if conciousness or life-span is affected.

But I still want to see the primary effort and investment in treatment, pain relief, and improving quality of life in one’s dying days.

Vic Gerhardi
Guest

The Daily Mail link is broken. I have found that the DM rarely keep these articles more than a few days on their site, unless the article is in favour of euthanasia. Now, there is an unbiased statement.

Rob Thornton
Guest
Rob Thornton

So some people think the Church is not out of touch.The church is full of deluded people who think they speak for all Christians,thats what I call out of touch.

Arielle Rivera
Guest
Arielle Rivera

I am against Euthanasia because It is a rejection on the value and importance in life! People should have the right to die with dignity!!