Lords to debate Euthanasia Bill

 Euthanasia could become legal in the UK if a bill being debated by the government this week is successful. The debate on the Second Reading of Lord Joffe's Patient (Assisted Dying) Bill takes place in the Lords this Friday (6 June). Campaigners are calling for people to contact their MPS to express their opposition to the bill. In a statement Lord Alton said: "At Westminster last week one Peer, Baroness Trumpington, a former Health Minister, said that she had not received a single letter opposing euthanasia but had been inundated with letters supporting it. There is a huge write-in campaign. It is co-ordinated by those lobbying for change." However, he pointed out, the Bill has been strongly opposed by religious leaders, together with the British Medical Association, Help the Aged, the Disability Rights Commission and Disability Awareness in Action. Archbishop Rowan Williams said: "Euthanasia is an act of violence, an attempt to take possession of the future ..even if euthanasia were legalised in some form and pragmatic anxieties overcome, it could not be a course of action endorsed by Christians." Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor and the Chief Rabbi have repeated this view and are calling for more compassion and resources for the care of the elderly and terminally ill. Lord Alton said: "Care homes and hospices that have traditionally overseen the care of the elderly, the sick or the dying will become charnel houses. In seeking to 'take possession of the future' we will demand of our doctors that they become licensed killers. The collateral effects on society's attitudes are incalculable. "The issue for Christians is not simply about whether euthanasia should be endorsed. It is about whether something so fundamental should occur with barely a murmur of protest. Thirty years ago Christian quietism, and a docile, false belief that abortion would never be legalised, paved the way for a law that has claimed six million lives. With what indifference will we now allow the fate of the unborn to be visited on the sick and dying?" Lord Alton said: "In writing to Members of the House of Lords, and MPs, you can remind them of this week's important opinion poll of British doctors. 61% state that they do not want euthanasia legalised - with a further 13% undecided. Most doctors are so opposed - some 76% - that they say that if euthanasia were legalised they would refuse to perform it. Not one single palliative care doctor who responded to the survey said they would be prepared to practice euthanasia or assisted suicide. "Professor Tim Maughan the director of Wales Cancer Trials Network at Cardiff University put it succinctly: "this is not what we became doctors to do." He said: "This debate has been manufactured by lobby groups with a clear agenda. Despite all the publicity around the tragic cases of Diane Pretty and Reg Crew, half the doctors who were surveyed said that in the past three years not a single patient or their relatives had requested euthanasia. 59% of the doctors said that the British Medical Association were right to resist moves to legalise euthanasia. "The Hospice Movement has warned of the dire consequences. Dr Nigel Sykes, Medical Director of St Christopher's Hospice in London says the Joffe Bill is 'dangerous' and could progress to include patients with mental illness. Euthanasia without express request will inevitably follow. Patients will be made to think that euthanasia is the decent thing to do." He concluded: "Now is the time to speak out. We don't need euthanasia, we need more resources for geriatric care and hospices. To die with dignity we don't need doctors to kill us." To express your view, write to peers at the House of Lords, London SW1A OPW. Further details are at: www.parliamentaryprolife.org.uk or from Right To Life at rtl@ukgateway.net (0208 992 7657)

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