Catholics all over the UK are being urged to write to members of the House of Lords, expressing their objections to the Joffe Bill which is due to receive its Second Reading on Friday 12 May. The issue is clear-cut for people of all faiths: assisted suicide is wrong, dangerous and unnecessary. The issue is also clear-cut for the Hippocratic ethic of the medical profession, the modern hospice movement and the English legal tradition. To negotiate or compromise with Lord Joffe would be to confusethe issue. The Bill is a serious threat to elderly, disabled and terminally ill people. Eminent lawyer Lord Carlile QC has warned that: "it is inevitable that many cases of homicide would be allowed to slip through the net if this kind of Bill became law." Evidence also suggests that women, ethnic minorities and the depressed will be particularly threatened by the Bill. The Church of England fears that "it will be the poor and disadvantaged who suffer the consequences" if assisted suicide is legalised. The Bill signals the beginning of further moves to spread intentional killing throughout the health service. Lord Joffe has admitted that the Bill is a "first stage" .. there is the possibility of subsequent amendment to widen its scope. The hospice movement opposes the bill. The Association for Palliative Medicine has noted that 90% of practising palliative medicine doctors oppose a change in the law. The National Group of Palliative Care Nurse Consultants has said that "this Bill is fundamentally flawed and sets a dangerous precedent. The Bill will shift doctors significantly away from the Hippocratic tradition - the basis of medical ethics that has protected the lives of patients and the consciences of doctors for 2,500 years. Sections of the medical profession have become hardened to killing by 38 years of legalised abortion in Britain. Legalising the killing of terminally ill patients will affect a number of major specialities, not only palliative care. Geriatrics, psychiatry, oncology, surgery and other areas will be tainted. Doctors will be morally corrupted and the confidence of the public in the medical profession will be destroyed. SAMPLE LETTER Keep your letter simple; saying something like: Dear Lord/Lady/Baron/etc I urge you to vote against Lord Joffe's Bill when it is put before the House. I do not feel the Law needs to be changed. To do so would be to allow loopholes a) for those who want to free up beds in hospitals and homes or b) for those who cannot wait for their relatives to die so that they can inherit sooner. To have a law that allows Euthanasia could make some older people feel guilty for living longer when they are not being "useful". We know the elderly as well as premature babies are thought of by many as simply "bed-blockers" and it would be cheaper and simpler if they could be dismissed. People are living longer now and must enjoy the full protection of the Law as it stands. Surely it is a mark of a civilised society, how it looks after its vulnerable members? I hope you will not support Lord Joffe. Yours faithfully The names of all members of the House of Lords are listed at: www.parliament.uk/directories/directories21.cfm The postal address is: House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW.
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