Thinking Anglicans

Faith leaders unite to oppose Assisted Dying Bill

A letter signed by over 20 faith leaders has been published in the Observer newspaper today. See the press release copied here, and the full text of the letter is copied below the fold.

The newspaper also carries a lengthy article by Archbishop Justin Welby, Why I believe assisting people to die would dehumanise our society for ever.

The Observer’s front page news report of all this: Welby urges MPs: reject right-to-die bill that ‘crosses the Rubicon’ and the newspaper’s own editorial view (to support the bill) is here.

Faith leaders join to oppose Assisted Dying Bill
06 September 2015
Vulnerable people would be placed at risk should Parliament approve proposals to legalise assisted suicide, leaders of faith communities in Britain warn today in a letter to MPs.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis have joined more than 20 other faith leaders in signing a letter to MPs highlighting the dangers of the Assisted Dying no 2 Bill.

The Private Member’s Bill proposes legalising assisted suicide for terminally ill people with six months or less to live and will be debated on Friday September 11 in the House of Commons.

In their letter, the faith leaders warn that the Bill has the potential to affect the lives of a ‘great number” of people whose circumstances make them vulnerable in different ways.

“If passed, it will directly affect not only those who are terminally ill and who wish to end their lives, but also their families and friends and the health professionals who care for them,” they say in the letter.

“It also has the potential to have a significant impact on other vulnerable individuals: those who believe that they have become burdens to family and carers and feel under pressure within themselves to ‘do the decent thing’ and, tragically, those who might be pressured by others to seek a medically-assisted death.

“In the UK some 500,000 elderly people are abused each year, most by family members, often for financial reasons. Many of these would also be vulnerable to pressure to end their lives prematurely.”

For very many people, the natural processes of dying, along with good palliative care, enable them and their families to experience precious moments of love, care, reconciliation and hope – processes that ought not to be cut short, the faith leaders write.

The best response to individuals’ end of life concerns lies in ensuring that all receive compassionate, high quality palliative care and this is best pursued under current legislation.

“Sadly, there are still instances of painful or distressing death, though due to advances in palliative care, these are much less common than was once the case,” they say.

“For very many people, however, the natural processes of dying, allied with good palliative care, enable them and their families to experience precious moments of love, care, reconciliation and even hope; processes that ought not to be truncated. For many, a change in the law would result, not in greater comfort, but in an added burden to consider ending their lives prematurely; a burden they ought not to be asked to bear.

“We believe that the best response to individuals’ end of life concerns lies in ensuring that all receive compassionate, high-quality palliative care and that this is best pursued under current legislation. A law based on this Assisted Dying Bill would put at risk many more vulnerable people than it seeks to help.”

End

Here is the full text of the letter and list of signatories

Assisted Dying Bill, 11th September 2015

To all Members of Parliament,

As leaders of faith communities, we wish to express concern at the provisions of the Assisted Dying No. 2 Bill, currently in the House of Commons. In doing so, we are conscious that the bill touches deeply on some of the most difficult and testing circumstances that people may face.

While much could be said on the legal and ethical implications of the bill, our focus in writing is pastoral. In our communities and through healthcare chaplaincy we care daily for the elderly, the ill, the dying and their families; our concern is rooted in a profoundly human and profoundly sacred calling to care for the most vulnerable in our society, a concern shared by people of all faiths and of none.

The bill has the potential to affect the lives of a great number of people whose circumstances make them vulnerable in different ways. If passed, it will directly affect not only those who are terminally ill and who wish to end their lives, but also their families and friends and the health professionals who care for them. It also has the potential to have a significant impact on other vulnerable individuals: those who believe that they have become burdens to family and carers and feel under pressure within themselves to ‘do the decent thing’ and, tragically, those who might be pressured by others to seek a medically-assisted death. In the UK some 500,000 elderly people are abused each year, most by family members, often for financial reasons. Many of these would also be vulnerable to pressure to end their lives prematurely.

It may not be possible fully to meet the needs and aspirations of all those who in various ways are vulnerable, but we are convinced that the current law, alongside the published policy for prosecutors, provides much greater protection for the vulnerable than would legislation based on this bill.

Sadly, there are still instances of painful or distressing death, though due to advances in palliative care, these are much less common than was once the case. For very many people, however, the natural processes of dying, allied with good palliative care, enable them and their families to experience precious moments of love, care, reconciliation and even hope; processes that ought not to be truncated. For many, a change in the law would result, not in greater comfort, but in an added burden to consider ending their lives prematurely; a burden they ought not to be asked to bear.

We believe that the best response to individuals’ end of life concerns lies in ensuring that all receive compassionate, high-quality palliative care and that this is best pursued under current legislation. A law based on this Assisted Dying Bill would put at risk many more vulnerable people than it seeks to help.

Most Revd and Rt. Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster

Full list of signatories:

Commissioner Clive Adams, Territorial Commander, The Salvation Army, UK and Republic of Ireland
Reverend Yemi Adedeji, Director, One People Commission
Mr Yousif Al-Khoei, Director Al-Khoei Foundation
His Grace Bishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Church, United Kingdom
Stuart Blount, National Leadership Team, Elim Pentecostal Churches
Revd Lyndon Bowring, Executive Chairman, CARE (Christian Action, Research and Education)
Steve Clifford, General Director of the Evangelical Alliance
Revd David Coffey OBE, Baptist Missionary Society Global Ambassador
Malcolm M Deboo, President, Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe
Rev Trevor Howard, UK Coordinator, Churches in Communities International
Billy Kennedy, Leader of Pioneer & CTE President
Rev Stephen Keyworth, Faith and Society Team Leader, Baptist Union of Great Britain.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth
Most Rev Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales
His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster
Rev Dr Hugh Osgood, The Free Churches Moderator
Rev John Partington, National Leader, Assemblies of God GB
Revd Gareth Powell, Secretary of the Methodist Conference
Mohammad Shahid Raza OBE, Founder Trustee, British Muslim Forum and Head Imam, Leicester Central Mosque.
Dr Shuja Shafi, Secretary General, The Muslim Council of Britain
Dr Natubhai Shah, Chair/CEO Jain Network
Lord Singh of Wimbledon, Director, Network of Sikh Organisations UK
Bhai Sahib Bhai (Dr) Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia, Chairman, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha
Most Revd and Rt. Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

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Fr Paul
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Fr Paul

I can and and only do speak for myself with regard to this. But depending on the circumstances, when my time is near I would like to at least have the option of considering assisted dying.

James Byron
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James Byron

Some people don’t want to suffer through a slow and humiliating death, which no amount of palliative care can alter; their relatives are, likewise, greatly distressed at having to watch the person they love become a shell of themselves. Elder abuse is a pretext. If it weren’t, they’d be demanding that the right to withdraw from treatment, equally open to coercion, be withdrawn. What lies behind this is religious dogma about only God having the right to take life. What scares Welby is people having agency over their own lives. Like all authoritarians, he wants to be in control, from… Read more »

Brian Ralph
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Brian Ralph

I made a “decision for Christ” at the age of 7. This led to many years of torment as I grappled with same-sex attraction. While there may be other factors, I believe that, although I came to realise my SSA was God-given, it was too late to develop any long lasting relationship. I watched my mother die a long lingering death assisted by my sister and to a lesser extent myself but regularly saying she wished she was gone and that it would be unbearable except for our care. My sister is my only relative but is 10 years older… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

“Elder abuse is a pretext. If it weren’t, they’d be demanding that the right to withdraw from treatment, equally open to coercion, be withdrawn.” Precisely. And for every case in which someone might be actively – oh, let’s stop beating about the bush – killed were that to be legal, there will be, and already are, ten or a hundred people who die because pneumonia is left untreated, or because sufficient morphine to suppress pain also suppresses breathing, or because performing rib-cracking resus on 80 year olds is abuse, or any number of other way in which the last hour… Read more »

robert ian williams
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robert ian williams

This is a true example of ecumenical co-operation which warms the heart, speaking out for human dignity.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ James Byron, “What lies behind this is religious dogma about only God having the right to take life. What scares Welby is people having agency over their own lives. Like all authoritarians, he wants to be in control, from who you sleep with, to how you die.” Man, that’s pretty sangfroid; but not an unfair comment when applied beyond personalities to organized religion as a structure.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

A couple of nights ago, in Christchurch, New Zealand, my wife and I watched an out-dated (we have delayed transmissions of this English ‘soap’) of ‘Coronation Street’. The dialogue between Roy and his trans-sexual wife, Hayley, gave marvellous insights into what it might mean for a couple, when one of them (Hayley in this instance) is given a sentence of death from aggressive cancer. The point at issue was the ‘right’ of a person to decide when to end a life (their own life) that becomes too painful – not physically but emotionally and mentally – to extend the waiting… Read more »

Father David
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Father David

I recall that David Steel’s 1967 Abortion Act was originally protected by all sorts of provisions and provisos but it seems to me that in effect what we now have is abortion on demand. I fear that the same will happen with this Euthanasia Bill (I won’t use the euphemistic “Assisted Dying”).

Susannah Clark
Guest

As a nurse, I see more than my share of deaths. Some deaths are as peaceful as a child falling asleep. Others are long, and distressing. We already effectively have assisted death with ‘do not resuscitate’ instructions. In addition, as pointed out above, death can be ushered in by lack of resolve in treating pneumonia. Medical teams, in reality, do review the age, prospects, and whole situation, of a deteriorating patient. I rarely get angry with God, I am quite passive like that. But occasionally, when I witness a lovely person’s suffering and pain, and the sadness and distress of… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

One other thing I omitted to say: I sometimes see incredible selflessness from suffering patients. Their concern is ‘the trouble I am putting people to’. They feel that they are causing relatives inconvenience, and out of love, they wish they were out of the way so their loved ones could be released of ‘the burden’. There is a real danger that ‘right to die’ may – in some cases – compound guilt and lead to people requesting it ‘to stop causing trouble’ to the people they love. Personally, I still incline to individuals having that right (they already have the… Read more »

John
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John

Brian Ralph, Missed your desolate post first time round. There are good arguments for an afterlife and I certainly believe it makes life better if one lives in that hope. And if one believes there is a God (and if your ‘God-given’ isn’t just a metaphor), the hope becomes both more necessary and more plausible. I don’t know where you live, but believe me most C of E churches nowadays happily accept gay people. And there are good priests – in this respect (and I would say in many others) vastly better than many bishops and similar worthies. As for… Read more »

Savi Hensman
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Savi Hensman

It is telling that the strong opposition to this bill from a number of disability rights organisations, and activists some of whom are atheists or agnostics, is almost completely ignored in mainstream debate. Of course some individual disabled people are in favour, just as there are women opposed to women’s ordination. However the passionate opposition from many who already feel that their lives are devalued, and fear they will be at even greater risk, deserves to be taken seriously.

Eric MacDonald
Guest

What all the fuss about? The Swiss law on assisted suicide is simplicity itself, and we see no rush to oblivion in Switzerland. Indeed, those who think there is a slippery slope involved in assisted dying legislation owe us more than imagined scenarios. Nor is the outcome of abortion legislation germane. By what magic is so cruelly restrictive a piece of legislation as the one being proposed in Britain likely to lead to a slippery slope? Lord Carey changed his mind, but it was the desperation of Tony Nicklinson that changed it, even though that poor man would not have… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

The comments by both Susannah Clark (nurse) and my colleague Eric MacDonald, written from different perspectives, are particularly compelling. A common denominator between the two is the role of experience in relationship to authority. There is a very interesting set of stained glass windows in L’eglise Catholique St. Jean de La Salle, in Paris. A two light window near the end of the series presents the death of the Saint in very romantic terms. There he is, dying, holding up the cross, surrounded around his death bed by clergy and pious folks praying the Saint’s soul into heaven. The church… Read more »

robert ian williams
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robert ian williams

The Hayley case was very subtle..because it made it look so simple and sensible. In real life many vulnerable people feel obliged not to be a burden. Some of the stories coming out of Belgium are horrific.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Savi, disability rights organizations, like the church, are guided by ideology: in their case, adherence to the social model of disability. They also protest against cures. “Care, not cure,” is the slogan, as if we can’t have both, and as if funding’s a zero-sum game. The opposites of cure and euthanasia are both opposed out of a principled rejection of any suggestion that disability can be inherently negative. As you rightly say, people with disabilities are not of one mind. Far from it: some disability rights activists can be downright vicious to disabled people who break the party line, whether… Read more »

Nathaniel Brown
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Nathaniel Brown

“This is a true example of ecumenical co-operation which warms the heart, speaking out for human dignity.”

It may be the former, though that is no certain guarantee of doing the right thing, but surely human dignity carries within it a right to determine one’s own fate to the fullest extent possible? In this light, religious authorities telling non-religious people what they may or may not do is the opposite of “human dignity.”

Eric MacDonald
Guest

Robert Ian Williams. Would it not be better to say that YOU are horrified by some of the stories coming out of Belgium? It would not be beyond the wit of humankind to change the Belgian law regarding assisted dying and euthanasia so as to avoid the circumstances you think are horrifying. This is not the inevitable result of assisted dying legislation, but is obviously something that the Belgians are prepared to take in their stride. It is non sequitur to argue that, because such things happen in Belgium, they are inevitably going to happen elsewhere. We will only let… Read more »

Chris H.
Guest
Chris H.

Eric, what frightens me most about stories from Belgium is the number where the doctor makes the decision, not the patient and the stories about a lack of oversight or following their own rules. One state in the US that allows Assisted Suicide requires psychiatric assessment, but their own statistics show that it’s not always done and that nobody’s been turned away after the assessment, not one. I live in Montana, which is counted as an A.S. state by the media–what the court said was that they wouldn’t hold the doctor liable for what the patient did, but the legislature… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

“Eric, what frightens me most about stories from Belgium is the number where the doctor makes the decision, not the patient” Why do you need to travel to Belgium for that? Doctors are perfectly at liberty to make “best interests” decisions in the UK which result inevitably in the patient’s death. They with withhold treatment which would minimally extend life at great cost in pain. They administer pain relief which also hastens death. They decline to operate when the risks are high and the effects uncertain. To which of these do you object? Do you really want a return to… Read more »

magistra
Guest
magistra

I think if this bill is passed it will be very difficult to hold the line against repeated expansions of it, because the argument of the supporters of assisted dying/assisted suicide is about an individual’s right to choose death. In the Netherlands, a group is now arguing that all Dutch people over 70 should have the right to assisted suicide (http://vorige.nrc.nl/international/Features/article2478619.ece/Citizens_group_argues_right_to_die). And Dignitas assists healthy people to die (http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/gill-pharaoh-healthy-former-nurse-75-takes-own-life-at-assisted-dying-clinic-after-deciding-old-age-is-awful-10433954.html). Meanwhile, we’ve got a society in UK where people who are dying are being harassed to attend job interviews and disability hate crime is on the increase. A view of individual… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

California, my home state, is considering such legislation now. The bill is mostly considered Just Another Culture War issue, w/ conservative religious leaders lined up against it, and the GOP legislators following their lead (despite polls showing overwhelming public support, following the Brittany Maynard case). Because of the traditional influence of the RCC on Democratic Latino legislators, however, its passage is considered in doubt (no word from our RC ex-seminarian governor, Jerry Brown, about his position).

In my Sacramento-area Episcopal church, I’ve never heard one word about it, either for or against (make of that what you will).

ian
Guest
ian

Because of the traditional influence of the RCC on Democratic Latino legislators, however, its passage is considered in doubt (no word from our RC ex-seminarian governor, Jerry Brown, about his position).
just a whif of no popery here?

Eric MacDonald
Guest

We have all heard the rumours, and the rumours frighten us. Rumour usually does. Magistra cites one case from Dignitas, about which little is known, and then says: “Dignitas assists healthy people [plural] to die.” We don’t know how healthy or unhealthy Ms Pharoah was. The same refers to a movement in the Netherlands which is trying to change the law, suggesting that such a change is simply uncontrollable. Why doesn’t he refer to the British group “Old Age Rational Suicide,” which stands as much hope of being accepted by the British Parliament as a snowball in hell? These are… Read more »

Chris H.
Guest
Chris H.

IO, when my state got pulled into the fracas, I researched Belgium’s way of doing it. It sounds like some doctors are suggesting it, recommending it, and even performing euthanasia without family intervention or approval, in some cases for nothing more than depression. Do I want my doctor to decide I’m too old and depressed or my seriously ill child is too sick to live? No, but there are already people shaming others for not aborting Down’s Syndrome babies, etc. and there will be people asking “Why live with _________?” Everything in the world can be abused/misused. In my own… Read more »

Eric MacDonald
Guest

See, that’s how it works: “It sounds like …,” followed by a series of suppositions, without any firm foundation. And what is that “nothing more than depression” doing here? When you are suffering intolerably, depression is rational behaviour. People talk knowingly of those who choose to die, due to their overwhelming suffering, as clinically depressed. What does such talk mean? Chris H “researched” assisted dying in Belgium, and then says: “It sounds like …”! This is not the kind of conclusion that is reached via research. This is what is known as prejudice. And why should family approval be required,… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“Do I want my doctor to decide I’m too old and depressed or my seriously ill child is too sick to live? No”

So should parents be able to demand futile and painful treatment indefinitely, without any regard for the interests of the child?

You might find this paper interesting: http://jme.bmj.com/content/39/9/573.full.pdf+html

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Eric, thank you for your well argued and compassionate comments here and for your constructive attempts to dispel fear.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Seconded, Erika. 🙂

Like Eric, I’m a live free or die kinda guy, and that extends to being imprisoned by an intolerable degree of suffering and incapacity. (What’s intolerable? Whatever I decide it is.) I’ve the right to decide what happens to me, and so too do my loved ones.

Those who disagree, I respect your right to follow your own path; but you’ve no right to impose your choices on me, anymore than I’d have, or want, the right to impose mine on you.

Eric MacDonald
Guest

Thank you, Erika. And thanks to James Byron for very generously not pointing out that I got the New Hampshire slogan wrong — it’s printed on all the license plates! — which is: “Live Free or Die!” It was Patrick Henry who said, “Give me Liberty or give me Death!”

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ Eric “It was Patrick Henry who said, ‘Give me Liberty or give me Death!’ “

Yes, and if you visit St. John’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Va. , you may be treated to a re-enactment by one of the tour guides there. Our tour guide/re-enactor claimed Patrick Henry made a very dramatic speech, acting out a feigned self stabbing motion to his chest with a letter opener.

MarkBrunson
Guest

They can’t unite to *condemn* the causes of suffering, but faith leaders sure can come together to ensure suffering continues.

Kate
Guest
Kate

It’s easy to see assisted dying only as shortening life.

The present situation places people in an awful dilemma: commit suicide now while still healthy enough to do so, or live for as many years as are bearable but knowing that by the time life becomes intolerable that an exit through suicide might no longer be possible. All too often those who choose an assisted death are judged as “having given up” when maybe a more charitable response might be to applaud their bravery in clinging to life as long as they did given their circumstances.

Kate
Guest
Kate

I worry that the church is backsliding. The role of the church is not to control, not to judge, but to teach. Rather than trying to block the Bill, for me the correct role of the church is in articulating the moral issues involved both for Christians, and more generally for society as a whole. Many wanted Jesus to stand as a Messiah against Roman rule, to interfere in civil jurisdiction. That was the perceived role of a messiah before Jesus taught otherwise. And that is the key word, “taught”. He taught people how to approach making mortal decisions for… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

@James Byron “I have the right to decide what happens to me…” The reason though why this is so difficult an issue is that while personal choice is a major reason for passing the Bill, it is also a major reason why passing the bill might be wrong. We are being asked to balance your right to choose to die against the risk that someone else will be manoeuvred or pressured out of their equally valid choice to live. Equally is it right to allow someone to choose to die when ill (and therefore potentially without proper deliberation) but deny… Read more »

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

It seems to me that it is the people who are better at creating theology than the professionals. Once more the people are completely out of line with the church. Who was it who said in a political context that you should change the people? The slippery slope argument is completely fallacious. It’s used against all social change. Most recently in the same sex marriage debate. Spain has had same sex marriage for ten years. How many have married their dog or their car there? It’s an argument used by timid and frightened people who see their world and their… Read more »

Eric MacDonald
Guest

@ Kate, who wrote: “As Christians, all we should be doing IMO is [to approach] each and every case with love and compassion both for the individual concerned but also for their family and friends. No blanket approach, but one tailored to the circumstances of each case.” And how on earth do you do that, except through legislation? Or do you think we should decide for other people case by case? And how do we do this? By legislating against assisted dying? And then, like the C of E’s “Dying Well” we can recommend that doctors disobey the law in… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Thank you, Eric, for your persistent common sense. It seems, sometimes, that theologians have every other sense but common sense. Human dignity requires the use of the faculties that God has given us – as individuals.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Eric
I am sorry the vote didn’t go the way you hoped.
Kate

Chris H.
Guest
Chris H.

Eric, I put the qualifier in because I’m not a citizen of Belgium, so have no right to make absolute statements. While you find people who qualify things unbearable, I find people who are absolute in their opinions the same. Do you really find none of the examples about what’s going on over there at all troubling? Or are you really just advocating for the legalization of all suicide? In your reasoning is there any reason not to help someone die? Are there any limits that should apply?

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

“Give me liberty or give me death” Indeed. Unlike Westminster, looks like The State Legislature in California has decided you can have both.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/12/us/california-legislature-approves-assisted-suicide.html

Eric MacDonald
Guest

Kate, thanks, but I never thought the legislation would pass. Politicians are often moved by horror stories, and have not given assisted dying the consideration it deserves, voting their emotions instead. Chris, the qualifier was there because you really don’t know. From a distance, there may be cases that trouble you, but in general we do not know the specifics of the cases, which are hyped by the news. Since opposition to assisted dying is so strong, this leads people to say exactly what you said: “It sounds as if…” Take as example, Oregon, in the US, where few requesting… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ Eric, “I’m not sure why assisted dying has such hard sledding in England, but I think it is associated with religion, and perhaps with the establishment of the Anglican Church.” How much has it to do with religion and the C of E? As an outsider I’m left wondering. The story put out by BBC ( see link) indicates that judges keep throwing the issue back to parliament. http://www.bbc.com/news/health-34208624 If parliament were the final voice in Canada, we might be in a situation very similar to the U.K. The difference is that Canada has the Constitution and the Charter.… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

just a whif of no popery here? Posted by: ian This seems to be directed at me (I’m quoted), but I really don’t know what you mean, ian. [Remember that I’m a (U.S.) American, so certain phrases may not have the same resonance.] As RodG noted above, the California legislation passed, and has been sent to Governor Brown for his signature (signed into law OR vetoed). We still have no idea what he will do. [Full-disclosure: I’m in favor, but not passionately so. I think palliative care *should* accomplish the task of a pain-free passing, but I understand why some… Read more »

Eric MacDonald
Guest

Rod, I’m not altogether sure what you are trying to say. I do not find it surprising that the Canadian Medical Association is divided on the issue, and no doubt the church must care for both those who favour assisted dying and those who do not. But, as for existential dilemmas, I am sure that the suffering come first, and doctors will eventually recognise this. Those who, for religious reasons, refuse to refer their patients to other physicians who will carry out their wishes, are, in my view, as I said before, defending their own rights while denying the rights… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ Eric, “Rod, I’m not altogether sure what you are trying to say.” I’m testing the notion that the vote in the British Parliament is, as you wrote, the result of, or significantly ” …associated with religion, and perhaps with the establishment of the Anglican Church.” I would be interested to hear opinions on that from folks who live in the U.K. Further to the point implied in my question, I’m testing your view by noting that in Canada, where religious influence, In my opinion, would be negligible on public policy, a vote in parliament here under the current Tory… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ Eric, “Those whose ethical dogmatism will not permit them to assist or refer, will soon find themselves with a select group of like-minded patients.” While ethical dogmatism exists, a principled aversion to participating the ending of the life of someone else is not necessarily ethical dogmatism. I included the link ( previous post)to the article about the Canadian Medical Association for two reasons. (1) It indicates that once legislated prohibition against assisted dying is removed or relaxed, the locus of the debate then shifts to a discourse about competing or conflicting values among the major stakeholders. (2) While one’s… Read more »

Eric MacDonald
Guest

Rod, you separated your response into two. I will try to deal with them together. I believe that the reason that the Canadian Parliament steers clear of assisted dying, and has regularly defeated proposed bills on first or second reading has much more to do with politicians looking over their shoulders towards religious people in their constituencies. The repetition of phrases, in what passes for debate, such as ‘sanctity of life’, ‘all life has dignity’, and so forth seems to indicate this, as well as the faithful parroting of the Roman Catholic “secular” arguments which are used as place holders… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ Eric, this thread is winding long and the article has moved down the story line up. So this will be my last comment. No doubt the issue will be back here and elsewhere. While no longer de rigueur in some circles, I’m one of those persons who argues for the vitality of meta narratives. I actually subscribe to the notion of the “sanctity of life” as articulated within the Christian view of things. Sadly, it is a notion more often honored by Christendom in the breach than in the observance. The notion of sanctity of life is an important… Read more »

Eric MacDonald
Guest

Well, Rod, since you have said this is your last comment, that gives me the last word! I have to admit that I do not know what the ‘sanctity of life’ means, but one thing that has customarily accompanied this concept is that life is strictly inviolable, and therefore points towards what in ethics is called vitalism, that life is a supreme value, full stop; which accounts for the arrested development you speak of. However, we know, considering the justification of war and execution (which have both received the imprimatur of the Magisterium, though capital punishment has now been ruled… Read more »