Sunday, 9 October 2005

euthanasia debate

Tomorrow there will be a House of Lords debate on euthanasia.

The churches issued this joint press release:
Nine leaders from six major British faith groups join together in unprecedented stand against assisted suicide and euthanasia

Richard Harries wrote this column in the Observer today: To be or not to be? It’s not our choice

The BBC Sunday programme lead with a related story:
Assisted Dying Listen here with Real Audio (8 minutes)

The House of Lords will debate a Select Committee report on assisted dying tomorrow. There is no doubt where the major faiths stand on the issue. They are opposed. On Friday nine leaders from six major British faith groups, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists, warned against any changes in the present law on assisted dying and euthanasia. The difference between the two is that euthanasia occurs when an outsider takes action to end someone’s life for compassionate reasons, while in the case of assisted dying an individual is helped to take their own life.

The Archbishop of Canterbury wrote an article in the Mail on Sunday which you can read about
here (the actual article seems not to be online) and also here. There is however a report that Peer rethinks euthanasia Bill plans while the Independent reports ‘Do-it-yourself’ euthanasia clinic to open in Britain.

Earlier this year, the Bishop of St Albans spoke in the General Synod on this topic: you can read the full text of that speech here and the motion that was passed is here. The synod briefing paper can be downloaded (RTF) from here.

More recently, Bishop Herbert has criticised the British Medical Journal for publishing five articles (including an editorial) effectively in favour of euthanasia but only one article against it. See details here. An earlier article by the bishop on this topic can be found here.

He also wrote The chilling ‘therapeutic option’ for the Church Times in September.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 9 October 2005 at 4:15pm BST
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

I'm afraid, along with 84% of the population, I disagree with the Bishops.

It is always difficult to frame law in this area, but given the advances within medicine and the lack of ability of the medical profession to extend life in years as successfully as years in life, the current situation is unsatisfactory.

I have signed an advanced directive, and I do not expect my wishes to be ignored by well-meaning Christians who think they can impose their will upon me. I do not think they should have the right to do so, any more than anyone should have the right to do the opposite.

In the meantime, plenty of euthanasia goes on, regularly and undercover.

Posted by: Merseymike on Sunday, 9 October 2005 at 10:27pm BST

Reading the article in the Scotsman about Rowan Williams' opposition to assisted death, it occurs to me that his position implies unacceptable conclusions about the nature and being of God.

Since, by his argument, whether we live or die is God’s decision, not ours, to make, does it not follow that the conditions under which we die are also chosen by God, and does this not raise problems with the possibility of a moral conception of God? Rowan can’t have it both ways. He can’t hold both that our lives are not our own to end as we will, and that God does not will our ends in painful and intolerable ways. Clearly, the problem of evil, so called, strikes with greater force in this context than it does in the context where human beings are conceived of as having the right to relieve pain and suffering — even by means of bringing about death, if necessary.

It is difficult for me to see why, if life belongs solely to God to dispose of only as he/she wills, the means of death are not also at God's disposal. If this is so, can the Archbishop explain why he calls God good?

Many years ago CH Dodd remarked that in regard to punishment and war human beings seemed to be becoming more humane than God. Is this not another example of humanity's compassion and God's indifference to suffering?

Eric MacDonald

Posted by: Eric MacDonald on Monday, 10 October 2005 at 1:24pm BST
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