Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill

Lord Falconer has reintroduced his Assisted Dying bill, which aims at helping terminally-ill people to commit suicide. This is the same bill that he introduced last session as a ‘dry run’. It is due to have a Second Reading in the House of Lords on Friday 18 July.

Write
Please write (send letters by post) to Peers (members of the House of Lords) asking them to oppose the bill.

To receive a list of suggested Peers to whom you can write, please send an email to political@spuc.org.uk with the subject line “Peer list request”.

Please ask as many people as possible to write to Peers. Short, preferably hand-written letters, relating personal experiences and concerns, are likely to be most effective. We believe they are likely to be much more effective in this instance than sending e-mails.

The Falconer bill poses a major threat at this time because the composition of the House of Lords has changed markedly in recent years, with many more ‘Cameron’ appointees reflecting anti-life attitudes. Although previous bills, such as Lord Joffe’s bill, have been defeated in the Lords, this vote could be much closer.

Bishop Mark Davies in a pastoral letter calling for opposition to the bill recalls the major conflicts of last century and says:

“Whilst we recall the heroism of generations before us, we must not fail to recog¬nise the great challenge for our own genera¬tion. We are now being called upon to defend the sanctity of human life amidst the growing threats against it.”

Please write to Peers, and encourage others to write, opposing the Falconer bill. We would be most grateful to receive copies of replies from peers who indicate whether they intend to support or oppose the bill.

Demonstrate
On the day of the Lords’ Second Reading, the Care Not Killing Alliance is organising an event in Parliament Square and SPUC supporters are encouraged to attend. Please contact CNK for details: 020 7234 9680 or via their website http://www.carenotkilling.org.uk

Read
Read a detailed critique of the Falconer bill by Rev. Dr. John Fleming.

Nurses Opposed to Euthanasia (NOE), a group within SPUC, has also published a critique.

Further briefing information is available on the Care Not Killing website at: http://www.carenotkilling.org.uk/falconer-bill

For an example of a letter (I don’t say it’s a good one though!) see my letter below. It might be good to include a personal testimony, if you have one.

Dear Lord _____________,

I am writing to you regarding Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill, which will now be discussed for the third time in the House of Lords.

At present, we are hearing time and time again of elderly men and women who are being neglected in care homes and hospitals. How much worse will it be if Lord Falconer is successful and this legislation allows even more pressure to be laid on the shoulders of the weak and elderly? As
Charles Moore commented,

“If ‘dying with dignity’ is legalised, soon it will be expected”

My own grandmother is 95 years old, but when she is ill, we dare not take her to hospital for fear that she will be kept there and will be starved or neglected until she is dead. Other than her memory, which is almost completely gone, she is in amazing physical condition. Yet, left in the care of those to whom she may be another burden, she would willingly go without food and drink for days on end simply because she is not in her right mind. Her life still has value because it is still hers and she remains a human being who was put on this earth with a definite purpose. This is the only life she will have and yet a growing number of people would argue that perhaps it would be better if she were allowed to starve to death. This is the current deplorable situation in the UK, even without Lord Falconer’s Bill.

The stated main purpose of the Bill is to, “enable competent adults who are terminally ill to be provided at their request with specified assistance to end their own life” (the long title of the Bill). Yet, who can seriously deny that slippery slopes are inevitable with this kind of dangerous legislation? It was this kind of reasoning which meant that the 1967 Abortion Act established the practise of abortion on demand in this country, despite the protestations of those proposing the legislation.

Even if one does not accept the concept of a ‘slippery slope’, there is no international law which acknowledges any right to death or suicide and certainly none which obliges medical staff or any person to assist in someone’s death. The role of the state is to protect its citizens, even if that means that a person must be protected from themselves (as in the case of the mentally ill, who may wish to harm themselves). It used to be the case that a person who wished to kill themselves would be pitied and given help. Now, we are on the verge of pushing them off the edge of the bridge instead of convincing them to come down.

Those who request, or even beg, for a premature death must be helped to see that there is immeasurable value in each and every life, even in its later stages. This is not about unnecessarily prolonging someone’s life, but about allowing a person’s life to extend until its natural end, whilst using modern medicine to alleviate as much suffering as possible.

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