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Cardinal Nichols, other religious leaders speak out against assisted-suicide bill

July 18, 2014

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster and Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury have joined other Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders in urging the House of Lords not to pass an assisted-suicide bill.

The measure would permit doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to patients judged to have less than six months to live.

“Every human life is of intrinsic value and ought to be affirmed and cherished,” the 24 religious leaders said in their joint statement. “This is central to our laws and our social relationships; to undermine this in any way would be a grave error.”

“The Assisted Dying Bill would allow individuals to participate actively in ending others’ lives, in effect colluding in the judgment that they are of no further value,” they continued. “This is not the way forward for a compassionate and caring society.”

They added:

Vulnerable individuals must be cared for and protected even if this calls for sacrifice on the part of others. Each year many thousands of elderly and vulnerable people suffer abuse; sadly, often at the hands of their families or carers.

Being perceived as a burden or as a financial drain is a terrible affliction to bear, leading in many cases to passivity, depression and self-loathing. The desire to end one’s life may, at any stage of life, be prompted by depression or external pressure; any suggestion of a presumption that such a decision is ‘rational’ does not do justice to the facts. The Assisted Dying Bill can only add to the pressures that many vulnerable, terminally ill people will feel, placing them at increased risk of distress and coercion at a time when they most require love and support.


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  • Posted by: - Jul. 18, 2014 11:06 AM ET USA

    One wonders how rooted in bedrock is the Anglicans belief against assisted suicide, if the passage of time will see them "evolving" to a more "compassionate" attitude, not forcing terminally ill people to endure all that pain, to finally giving humans access to the same measures that "pet parents"--I love that one--use to put down their children when they're in need of a helping hand.