If assisted suicide was legalised, depressed and disabled people could be allowed to seek assistance to end their lives, a bishop has warned.
Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali raised caution about the possible “slippery slope” if doctors could legally help their patients kill themselves.
In a letter published in The Economist, Bishop Nazir-Ali said: “If autonomy is what it’s all about, then why not permit those who are depressed, the disabled and the disappointed to end their lives?”
He warned against the “secular dogma of radical autonomy” which sees people as “individual units”, rather than relational beings whose dying affects those “nearest and dearest to them”.
Bishop Nazir-Ali was writing in reaction to a previous article in the paper which promoted assisted suicide.
The piece opposed the views of religious groups, saying they “should not be allowed to constrain the freedoms of those who do not share their faith.”
But Bishop Nazir-Ali argued that these views are based on “intrinsic human dignity and are important not just for ‘religious’ people but for the wider good.”
He said it was not surprising that “doctors’ organisations are wary of any suggestion that they should participate in the killing of patients”.
Recently, two health ministers said they personally backed a change in the law on assisted suicide.
And this year, delegates at the Liberal Democrat’s annual conference passed a motion in support of assisted suicide and euthanasia.
But Conservative party sources say the Prime Minister has long held the view that “there is no need for a change in the law.”