Thinking Anglicans

Assisted Suicide: Church views

Keir Starmer the Director of Public Prosecutions [for England and Wales] has issued an Interim policy for prosecutors in respect of cases of assisted suicide. The background to this action is explained in this government press release.

He also wrote an article in the Telegraph Why I am clarifying the law on suicide, by Keir Starmer, Director of Public Prosecutions.

Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff issued this statement on behalf of the Roman Catholic Bishops Conference.

The Bishop of Exeter, Michael Langrish, issued this statement on behalf of the Church of England.

The CofE website has this section: Protecting Life – opposing Assisted Suicide:

The Church of England is opposed to any change in the law, or medical practice, to make assisted suicide permissible or acceptable.

Suffering, the Church maintains, must be met with compassion, commitment to high-quality services and effective medication; meeting it by assisted suicide is merely removing it in the crudest way possible.

In its March 2009 paper Assisted Dying/Suicide and Voluntary Euthanasia [PDF], the Church acknowledges the complexity of the issues: the compassion that motivates those who seek change equally motivates the Church’s opposition to change…

The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu wrote this article, also in the Telegraph: Assisted Suicide: There must be no slippery slope.

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EmilyH
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EmilyH

Unlike some who may think about how you would vote on this issue, I have the experience of actually being at the polls and pushing the lever. As an US Oregon resident, I voted on legislation that permitted this in our state. Oregon’s legislation was hotly debated with opponents arguing that the legislation would allow for mass deaths, undue influence on ill people, and a cruelty to those most vulnerable, the ill and his or her relatives. No matter how one feels about the actions taken by Oregon, whether you are for or against, if the outcome matters in how… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
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Emily
The CofE is not the decision maker here. There is not even any proposal at the moment to modify the law on this issue, only a requirement imposed by the courts to clarify the way in which decisions to prosecute or not are made.

BillyD
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EmilyH, there seems to be disagreement as to whether or not everything is as fine with Oregon’s system as you state. And the fact that “only” 400 people have taken advantage of the law is, of course, not proof that there is “no abuse.”

http://tinyurl.com/oregonproblems

http://www.truecompassionadvocates.org/resourcesor.html

John-Julian, OJN
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John-Julian, OJN

I become increasingly curious about the theology that lies behind the Church’s position against assisted suicide. The only thing I have ever heard is the old saw: “Life is given by God, and can only by taken by God.”

But that is ridiculous since medical science has already made it “normal” to delay a “God-given” end of life by medical intervention. If we can morally keep people alive by human intervention; why can we not morally help people to die by the same human intervention?

Merseymike
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Merseymike

I am in favour of both legalisation of assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia.

However, it is not a simple issue and clearly there are no easy answers. I think that the ability of medicine to extend years in life without the parallel ability to do something about life in years will make this something which will stay on the agenda in the future.

The reality is that juries will not convict in these cases and this is at last partially why this guidance has been published.

Rev L Roberts
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Rev L Roberts

The protestant and rc bishops talking rubbish again.

Suffering, the Church maintains, must be met with compassion, commitment to high-quality services and effective medication; ‘

‘Must be’ ? Wishful thinking, I’m afraid . It is not met by such treatment. Not…

EmilyH
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EmilyH

Billy D. As I am not in the US at the moment and am having trouble thinking in English at all, I may not have been clear. My point was that the opponents of the legislation were extremely vocal in denouncing the legislation predicting massive abuse. That didn’t happen. Unfortunately I can not access some of the sites you are suggesting, when I return to the US, I will take a look at your suggestions. Also, I wasn’t able to review some of Simon’s suggestions for the same reason, but, I assume eventually Parliament (and through it the CofE) will… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

The ‘Hypocratic Oath’ – which has hitheto bound medics towards the ‘saving’ of life wherever it is within their means to do so – has already been compromised by the culture of hospitals which, in the case of older (or severely infirm) patients, asks them to consider whether, in fact, if they are considered to be ‘clinically dead’ while on the operating table, they would prefer not to be resuscitated. In such cases, patients are told to advise the clinicians that they wish to be labelled as ‘not requiring resuscitation’. Is this not, in effect, one way of intentionally ‘committing… Read more »

MarkBrunson
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Amazing.

Sentamu is terrified of this “slippery slope” that might end lives, but is completely willing to destroy souls, minds and hope by helping Williams to insist on providing aid and comfort to the homophobes and misogynists.

Clearly, Christianity, as an organized religion, doesn’t believe what it professes.

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

“If we can morally keep people alive by human intervention; why can we not morally help people to die by the same human intervention?” It isn’t about human intervention, but about society’s overall rejection of the naturalness of death. We intently pretend it doesn’t exist. We prefer euphemisms like “he passed” as though death is some sort of exam and those of us who wake up every morning got an ‘F’. You get something like two or three days “compassionate leave”(!) for a first degree family member, and that’s it. I read about Maori death customs, surprisingly like what used… Read more »

drdanfee
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drdanfee

Okay, let’s check in with Sentamu again, say, if or when he lies daily upon some hospital bed, wracked with constant deep pain untreatable; diminished in so many basic body and intellectual functions that he is pale to a shadow of his former self; and nearly completely dependent upon others for what body or intellectual functions remain, fading. Than ask him to glorify long life. My guess? Sentamu might cave, just faced with the convincing likelihood of impending bodily-intellectual downward trending. Or will we maintain him in a vegetative coma forever, thanks to miracles of modern medical technology; until his… Read more »

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

“maintain him in a vegetative coma forever” What you describe is NOT a vegetative coma, but a weakened human being relying on others for care and compassion. Would it be so bad to be expected to give it to him? How much “deep pain, untreatable” is there in the world? I submit that a lot of what passes for “deep pain, untreatable” in this day and age is actually “pain that is eminently treatable but most GPs haven’t been properly trained to do so.” Up till recently, physicians have been very poorly trained in adequate pain control, as you know.… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

Thank you, Ford, for allowing us into the perspective of a caring medical doctor. It would seem that the Church, in it’s anxiety to affirm the principle of life given by God, is sometimes guilty of not acknowledging also ‘death given by the same agency. I agree with you, that we need to apply proper theological principles to the whole business of palliative care – on the basis that both death and life are the prerogative and gift of a loving, caring Creator and Life-Giver. How the Church deals with that theological reality is most important – that is, if… Read more »

rp
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rp

in a case of Assisted suicide there are conflicts between autonomy (think for themselves), beneficience (to do what is in the best interest of the patient) as well as non-malficence (do no harm.) Sentamu implies that this service will be available to anyone when it is only the extremes which will CHOOSE to take it. He is clearly letting his religious belief outweigh his rational thought. Moral purity at the expense of others sufferung does not justify the prohibition of PAS. He touches on consent “coercion” and this is what he believes may happen, what is there to say that… Read more »