Saturday, 12 July 2014

Assisted Dying Bill - Carey and Welby disagree


The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has written for The Times on why he believes the Assisted Dying Bill, which will be debated in the House of Lords next week, is “both mistaken and dangerous”. His article can be read here: Archbishop Justin writes for The Times on the Assisted Dying Bill.

Meanwhile, former archbishop George Carey has said that he supports a change in the law on assisted suicide. He has explained his views in this article written for the Daily Mail: Why I’ve changed my mind on assisted dying says a former Archbishop of Canterbury.

Press reports include:

James Chapman Mail Online Carey: I’ve changed my mind on right to die: On eve of Lords debate, ex-Archbishop dramatically backs assisted death law
John Bingham The Telegraph Lord Carey: I support assisted dying
Nicholas Watt The Guardian Former archbishop lends his support to campaign to legalise right to die
Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Former Archbishop of Canterbury: ‘Why I support assisted suicide’
The Telegraph Archbishop Welby: Assisted dying is ‘sword of Damocles’ over vulnerable


John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England calls for review on assisted dying
Nicholas Watt, Shane Hickey and agencies The Guardian Church of England seeks inquiry over bill to legalise assisted dying

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 9:20am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Who'd have thought that Archbishop George Carey could be so daring - as to support the campaign for assisted dying for the terminally ill. This bit of liberal thinking could only have come from his own experience of someone close to him in the very difficult situation this proposal seeks to address.

I wonder if he has any gay relatives? Is it possible that the Hon. Lord Bishop would change his mind about their situation if he knew of anyone? It can happen with divorce, for instance.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 12:04pm BST

I once said of some idea or other "I realise that what I'm about to say will mean the death of this proposal, but I'd like it to be on record that I support this proposal unreservedly'. Carey's support might well be counterproductive.

Posted by: Stanley Monkhouse on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 12:51pm BST

His change of heart is based on personal experience...a very dangerous way of determining truth.

Posted by: Robert ian Williams on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 1:09pm BST

I never expected to be shocked - and delighted by George Carey ! And now he has -- I am delighted to be wrong.

This will mean so much to many, many people; and help greatly.

lgbt equality next, Bishop George ?

Posted by: Laurie Roberts on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 1:20pm BST

'His distress made me question my motives in previous debates. Had I been putting doctrine before compassion, dogma before human dignity?'

(George Carey in The Guardian)

What could be a greater gift than these thoughtful reflections ?

Posted by: Laurie Roberts on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 1:24pm BST

If assisted dying is liberal thinking then I am straight.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 1:55pm BST

When Martin Reynolds and Robert ian Williams are in agreement .... !

Posted by: Laurie Roberts on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 3:33pm BST

Assisted dying is portrayed as the extension of personal choice into the area of when & how you die, so to that extent, it does claim to be 'liberal'. Whether that makes it right or not is another matter.

Posted by: David Keen on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 4:55pm BST

Welby's patronizing sneer at assisted suicide illustrates just how badly the argument against is being lost. He doesn't even attempt to argue that assisted is inherently wrong. Instead, he does what opponents without the courage of their convictions always do, he shifts the issue, onto elderly abuse, and presents a false choice between banning assisted suicide and murdering granny.

This fails even on its own terms. These alleged hordes of murderous relatives -- up to a cool half million by Welby's reckoning -- can already kill their nearest and dearest by coercing them to withdraw from treatment, or simply smothering them with a pillow.

If the problem is this bad, the answer isn't to force terminally ill people to live in agony against their will, it's to combat abuse. What's Welby been doing about that?

Posted by: James Byron on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 5:08pm BST

Welby's mistake over same-sex marriage was to assume that there was massive public resistance, and therefore all he needed to do was say "down with this sort of thing", "careful now" and everyone in parliament would immediately swing in behind him. He was clamorously, preposterously wrong: there is little public resistance, great public support, and MPs are keen not to be on the wrong side of history.

Assisted dying is the same problem, on a grand scale.

The alleged "problems" have no traction whatsoever: people don't like being told they might murder their parents given half a chance (because, oddly, most people wouldn't) and the "you wouldn't treat a dog like that" argument has massive support.

There is a real pressure, in all sectors of society, against the idea that we have to be forced to stay alive in the face of great pain just to satisfy the scruples of a few religious hardliners and some rather theoretical issues.

The debate is real, and it's a debate that need to be had. However, if Welby is his usual short-sighted self and assumes that all he has to do is tell people what he thinks and they're bound to agree, then he'll be setting the church up for another car crash.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 9:04pm BST

Mr Williams, please consider that personal experience of extreme physical pain may not be something that can easily be shared or explained, and if you do not understand this, be very, very thankful for it. For the very first time in my life, I'm with Dr Carey, and think that, unless you have experienced some sort of real physical pain, you should refrain from giving advice.

Posted by: Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 9:20pm BST

New news:

Welby is welcome to try to argue that Desmond Tutu is wrong. He'll lose. "What does Desmond Tutu think?" is a pretty good guide to what is right and decent, and an argument starting from the position that Desmond Tutu is wrong about the death of Nelson Mandela is unlikely to get very far.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 9:22pm BST

I smiled when I read that, Laurie!

In fact RIW is a friend who visits us regularly.
We have been blessed to share many journeys together, some of them quite difficult, I have always admired his tenacity and passion.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 11:38pm BST

When Martin Reynolds and Robert Ian Williams are in agreement .... !

Posted by: Laurie Roberts

Is this what one might call 'Welsh Rarebit' ?

'Tenacity and passion' do not necessarily equal justice or truth.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 13 July 2014 at 5:51am BST

My Mother has advanced dementia, and I am glad that in my Church, the decision is not left to me.
I could be so easily swayed by my feelings. Seeing an intelligent, attractive lady who I knew as a wise and loving Mother reduced to the state of total dependence, makes you want to cry out for her liberation. Also having to cope with this, but also the battle with social services and the Health service,to fight her corner is exhausting.

I am grateful to God that the decision is not left to me and euthanasia is not an option. God will call my Mother in his time and use her suffering (if she is conscious of this suffering)to his Glory.

Posted by: Robert ian wiliams on Sunday, 13 July 2014 at 8:05am BST

Some comments here focus on whether assisted dying is right or wrong. From the point of view of legislation, this is not relevant. The question is whether persons have the *right* to choose the time of their own death. Perhaps in so choosing they would choose a wrong action, but that shouldn't bear on their right to choose in a liberal society. Since Welby et al are not advocating the recriminalisation of attempted suicide, the view advanced is morally inconsistent.

Posted by: Andrew Wilshere on Sunday, 13 July 2014 at 11:08am BST

Discovering that I am in agreement with George Carey is most troubling. I will need to go back and re examine my position most carefully.

Posted by: Disgraced on Sunday, 13 July 2014 at 1:00pm BST

Interesting 'revelation' from Martin. In fact, such 'cross-over' friendships are common and are one of the things that give one hope in all sorts of areas, including the ecclesiastical.

Posted by: John on Sunday, 13 July 2014 at 1:25pm BST

RIW said

"My Mother has advanced dementia, and I am glad that in my Church, the decision is not left to me - etc"

Robert. I share this with you. I cared for my mother in similar circumstances, and she died last year. But I must point out that the current discussion on assisted suicide has absolutely no connection with the case of your mother and mine.

A law that allows assisted suicide for people able to make informed consent about their own condition would not allow a relative to make euthanasia decisions for somebody else. The two situations are different.

The constant recourse to this "slippery slope" argument shows the paucity of many arguments against assisted suicide, in that they fail to address the main question of why somebody of sound mind but a failing body cannot make such a decision about their own life. Nobody is asking anybody to make decisions for somebody else.

Best wishes


Posted by: Simon Dawson on Sunday, 13 July 2014 at 3:08pm BST

I have always thought suicide never to be a free choice, as I would understand it, but a decision based on coercion.

In this debate I believe hard cases make bad law.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Sunday, 13 July 2014 at 9:20pm BST

That's nice to know, Martin - I am very glad for you both.

RIW would, perhaps, be interested to know he has influenced me, more than he can know - and I have no way of letting him know.

Posted by: Laurie Roberts on Sunday, 13 July 2014 at 10:37pm BST

Assuming most of you are against the use of torture, here's an argument: some conditions are extraordinary painful and not everything can be alleviated by morphine, you know. Why allow the use of torture in those cases? Simply because the pain is not inflicted by other humans? Palliative care is very often a sad joke.

Some degenerative conditions are also ridiculously slow and demeaning, why not allow people so afflicted to decide what to do for themselves? Why legally insist that these be tortured, very slowly, to death, simply because the origin or causes of their pain is not human?

Posted by: Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente on Monday, 14 July 2014 at 8:42am BST
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