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Monday, December 5, 2016
Comment by Archbishop Peter Smith on assisted suicide draft guidance
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Following the new draft guidance on assisted suicide issued by  Keir Starmer QC, the director of public prosecutions, Archbishop Pter Smith has issued the following statement today:

 The law against assisted suicide gives expression to a profound moral intuition about the value of every human life.   It exists to protect vulnerable people, and any weakening of that legal protection would carry with it great dangers.   

The comments made by the DPP in his article in the Daily Telegraph this morning provide helpful reassurance on two key points. First he emphasises that the law has not changed - assisted suicide remains a criminal offence and the prosecution authorities have a duty to investigate each case.  Second, he made clear that no one can expect a guarantee of immunity from prosecution.  These are important and necessary clarifications.

What the DPP has been asked to do by the House of Lords is to give more specific guidance about the factors he will take into account in deciding whether or not to consent to a prosecution.  I would not be seeking to argue that every criminal case should be prosecuted - there can indeed be a particular combination of circumstances which will justify in a specific case a decision not to prosecute in the public interest. But such decisions can only be made on a case by case basis, and what is imperative is that any general guidance does not obscure the bright line of the law, which must  remain clear and evident to all.

With this in mind, the Bishops' Conference will be studying the draft guidance very carefully and taking expert legal advice in  preparing our own response to the consultation.     

Source: Archbishops House

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Tags: Archbishop Peter Smith, assisted suicide, draft guidance, Keir Starmer QC


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