Comments: Assisted Dying Bill

Now, there's a surprise! The bishop in favour of assisted dying is none other than the Bishop of Buckingham.

Posted by Father David at Friday, 18 July 2014 at 12:43pm BST

As soon as I saw the headline I thought 'Alan Wilson' - and I was right!!

Posted by Peter K+ at Friday, 18 July 2014 at 4:42pm BST

I comment as a former Director of Pastoral Care at a large city hospital. I did this for 24 years. During that time my ministry included patients in four I.C.Us. with different specialties. I was and am a member of the hospital ethics committee.

It is obvious that there are very strong views on both sides of this question. Those views seem to be based on emotion, personal experience, morality, sometimes unthought through theology and various other sources. They would all appear to be reasonable and valid arguments.

Medical ethics are not absolute. Sometimes the answer is 'Yes' and sometimes the answer is 'No.' Sometimes two cases would appear to be identical and yet the answer would be different. In medical ethics there are no 'black and white' answers. Ethics and morals are not synonymous and sometimes an answer might be judged to be moral but nevertheless unethical.

The argument that we are made in God's image etc. etc. is not valid either. It is true, but it is also true that as a society we have messed up that image by our reckless lifestyles and a good proportion of terminal illnesses can be attributed to that lifestyle. I am not suggesting that God is punishing us.

These issues can not be legislated without ethical guidelines and can not be based on either morality, emotion or personal experience. In the ultimate it is what the patient decides not what we as a society or a church decides.

The Rev. Canon Dr. Lettie James

Posted by Lettie James at Friday, 18 July 2014 at 7:22pm BST

Mea culpa: I meant to say, 'In the ultimate it is what is in the best interests ofthe patient that decides, not what we as a society or a church decides.'

Lettie James

Posted by Lettie James at Friday, 18 July 2014 at 10:30pm BST

Unfortunately what a person believes is very strongly influenced by society around them. Most people's value and worth are greatly tied to the opinion of those around them. If a person's family or caretakers make them feel a burden, they will be pressured to end it to save those around them the trouble, even if those caretakers never actually say it. That is why so many of the disabled are against it. They know the pressure, the people who say, "I'd never be able to live if I had to live like you".

I also think that a comment on another post was right when they said that it was similar to abortion. I doubt those that those who approved abortion suspected it would become just another form of birth control, but even with all the other forms out there, abortion has exploded in use.
I live in one of the US state that allow PAS(Physician Assisted Suicide) and prescriptions for terminal patients rise greatly year after year. What has become obvious is that doctors are terrible at knowing how long you'll live and a lot of people don't mean it as the prescriptions are never used. Since doctors aren't required to be present, who knows if someone "helps" them take it sometimes. Also, suicide in general is becoming more widespread in states with assisted suicide. We have the second highest general suicide rate in the country. When you make something allowable, it must be good, right? Or it wouldn't be allowed, so then others commit suicide too. Finally, some patients who wanted treatment for cancer under the Oregon healthcare system were denied treatment other than old-fashioned chemo but were told the state would cover PAS.

I don't want to die helpless and in pain, but any system put in place allowing suicide can and will be abused.

Posted by Chris H at Saturday, 19 July 2014 at 2:15am BST

Are the Bishop of Buckingham's views really as garbled as they appear in the DT article? Assume it was an interview since not on his blog ... Anyone help with:

“There are arguments for assisted suicide which I think is more than that and different and that’s the issue that Mrs Nicklinson raises.

Posted by Stephen W at Saturday, 19 July 2014 at 11:07am BST

I am interested by the use of Suicide in the concept of a Physician Assisted death. If this Bill were called Assisted Manslaughter, would it not change the axis of opinion?

Next week I shall be conducting two funerals of people who have died from chronic cancers, both of whom became 'agitated' during the last days of their lives. Each was given a 'sedative' injection with the agreement of their families, in order to bring them (the patients) 'peace' and 'sleep'. Both died within 10 hours of receiving that 'sedative'. It would be deemed a bit too near the knuckle if death had occurred within about 90 seconds - as it did when my dog Bess was given a sedative 2 weeks ago, immediately followed by terminal injection to 'put her to sleep'.

My mother committed suicide in 1966 because she chose death rather than (the prospect of) life divorced from my father. She wasn't always entirely stable, but she wasn't ill as we understand it within this debate.

I have every sympathy with the terminally ill, their families, and all who live with pain, disability and endless stress and distress. Many of the terminally ill will die following a final injection (about which no choice is expressed at that moment, though possibly beforehand where families discuss openly.) Others may choose to end their own lives in many different circumstances. Indeed, that is what is envisaged within the current Bill - self-administration of a lethal dose.

But for the State to legislate for this to occur seems to me to infringe the very freedom that we all have - to choose life or death. For the Sanctity of Life religious brigade to claim any moral high ground - no, we the religious share different views as do the non-religious. If abortion had been legal in 1949, I would not have been born in 1950. I frequently thank God that I was; but I'm tolerant of the freedom of others to choose life or death for their unborn children. And for those who are now in the land of the living to choose whether or not, and for how long, they wish to remain.

Posted by The Revd Canon Peter Edwards at Saturday, 19 July 2014 at 11:33am BST
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