The Catholic Church and human rights groups welcomed the Law Lords' judgment in the case of Diane Pretty yesterday. Five Law Lords ruled that her human rights were not infringed and stressed that assisted suicide was against the law. Archbishop Peter Smith, Archbishop-elect of Cardiff and chair of the Catholic Bishops' Department of Christian Responsibility and Citizenship said: "No one can fail to be moved by the suffering of Diane Pretty and her husband. Motor Neurone disease is a terrible terminal illness. However, with the continuing development of good quality palliative care, much can be done to alleviate such suffering and help maintain the dignity of those who are afflicted with terminal illness. "We are duty bound to alleviate suffering but it is always wrong to intentionally kill innocent human beings. The Law Lords have rightly upheld the longstanding prohibition against euthanasia and assisted suicide which exists, among other things, to protect the weak and vulnerable members of society. "The coalition of pro-life groups involved in the case of Mrs Pretty also welcomed the decision. They said: "We had serious concerns that the case could undermine the lives of vulnerable people and lead to the practice of euthanasia. In the Netherlands, decisions by legal authorities have led to the widespread killing of patients on a voluntary and non-voluntary basis. "The pro-life coalition intervened in the courts to argue that Mrs Pretty's case could critically undermine the right to life of disabled and elderly people with degenerative diseases. Last year there was a virtual consensus against assisted suicide at a conference organised by the British Medical Association. "Those who were backing Mrs Pretty's case appear to have had a wrong understanding both of motor neurone disease (MND) and of the palliative care available to terminal sufferers of the condition. The pro-life coalition was not allowed by the court to submit evidence provided by Dr Nigel Sykes, a leading expert in palliative care for MND sufferers, but this evidence can now be obtained from SPUC."
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