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
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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.
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