Legalising assisted suicide would open a “‘Pandora’s box'” and lead to “horrible consequences”, a senior Roman Catholic Archbishop has said.
Archbishop Antonio Mennini explained that the “reality” of assisted suicide should be revealed, as he warned that the change could lead to further attempts to weaken the law.
The House of Lords is set to discuss the issue when it debates Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill.
Archbishop Mennini, who has represented the Pope in Great Britain since 2011, said the “‘nice’, ‘politically correct'” term “assisted dying” should be exposed.
“Unfortunately we know from experience how easily public opinion can be manipulated, especially using ’emotional’ arguments that try to move compassionate sentiments.
“But once we open this ‘Pandora’s box’ we know as well the horrible consequences that follow.”
He then gave the example of Belgium, which after introducing euthanasia in 2002 brought in child euthanasia earlier this year.
The Archbishop was speaking to the Roman Catholic bishops of England and Wales and said he “cannot fail to express concern” about Lord Falconer’s Bill.
He commented that the issue was “very sensitive” and required “a serious commitment from us to protect and defend human life as a gift from God”.
Earlier this year Prime Minister David Cameron reiterated his opposition to assisted suicide, saying: “I have not supported it in the past and I’m not planning on changing my position.”
“My worry has always been about whether people will be unfairly pressurised”, the Prime Minister said.
In March 2014 a disabled Peer said she fears she is already “on the list” of those likely to be offered assisted suicide in the future.
Baroness Campbell is a wheelchair user and has a degenerative genetic disease.
She highlighted a report from Lord Falconer published in January 2012, which said assisted suicide should not be offered to disabled people “at this point in time”.
“This sent a shiver down my spine”, Baroness Campbell commented.