A group of 80 people have signed a letter calling for the legalisation of assisted suicide, prompting criticism from a Daily Telegraph editorial and a political blogger.
The signatories of the letter, to The Daily Telegraph, include the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey and prominent atheist A C Grayling, alongside actors and politicians.
A blogger with the pseudonym ‘Archbishop Cranmer’ said that Lord Carey is “wrong” to support assisted suicide and praised the Church of England’s (C of E’s) position on the issue.
Responding to the letter, The Daily Telegraph editorial highlighted European countries where assisted suicide has become a threat to the vulnerable.
It said: “We only need to look at countries such as the Netherlands and Belgium to find the ‘normalisation’ of euthanasia despite a host of so-called safeguards.”
The editorial described the “slippery slope” potential of assisted suicide, which it said its proponents “refuse to acknowledge”.
It proposed that when arguments around assisted suicide “are fully aired and understood”, “support will diminish”.
Last year a poll revealed that public opposition to assisted suicide grows dramatically when people are more informed of the arguments.
The ComRes poll found that 28 per cent of British adults who had supported the legalisation of assisted suicide switched to opposition when informed that vulnerable people may feel pressurised to end their life so as not to be a ‘burden’.
Writing last weekend, ‘Archbishop Cranmer’ said: “Whatever Lord Carey strongly believes or passionately expresses, and however well-intentioned and honourable he may be, he is simply wrong on this matter”.
He said that the former Archbishop of Canterbury needs to care more about the “inevitable unethical consequences of not caring for the weak, dependent, defenseless and poor”.
He also praised the position taken by the new Archbishop of Canterbury and the C of E since Lord Carey’s departure.
Mistaken and dangerous
Cranmer referred to an interview with Justin Welby in July of last year where he described the opinion of assisted suicide proponents as “mistaken and dangerous”.
He pointed to the C of E’s website which states that the denomination “cannot support” Lord Falconer’s assisted suicide Bill.
It explains: “Patient safety, protection of the vulnerable and respect for the integrity of the doctor-patient relationship are central to the Church of England’s concerns”.