Opposition to an assisted suicide Bill at Westminster is continuing to mount, as a hospice and more than 30 church leaders raise their concerns about the plans.
Severn Hospice, which has looked after more than 23,000 people since it opened in 1989, said its only priority is to provide top quality care for those who are dying and their relatives.
Chief Executive Paul Cronin said: “We would not participate in, or provide a venue for, assisted suicide”.
“Our mission as a hospice is to provide the best care and a better life for people living with an incurable illness, and for those important to them.”
MP Rob Marris’ Bill, set to be debated on September 11, would allow patients who are thought to have less than six months to live to obtain lethal drugs to kill themselves.
Church leaders from Marris’ own city of Wolverhampton wrote him an open letter saying they have “no choice but to speak out for the many who disagree strongly with it and feel endangered by it”.
… it is society itself that endows a person with dignity regardless of their health or sickness, not by bringing their life to an endChurch leaders,Wolverhampton
The 36 ministers argued that the Bill does not value “every life as intrinsically worthy of our protection”.
Instead, they said it protects practitioners of assisted suicide and “removes legal protection from those who most need it; the sick, the weak, the disabled”.
“They are immediately deemed of less value than the rest of us. That is why your Bill has been opposed by every disability group in the country”.
The letter also criticised the pro-assisted suicide lobby for misusing the term ‘dignity’ in its arguments.
“It is an attempt to apply emotional pressure on us all to permit assisted suicide lest we should be viewed as heartless and uncaring. It seeks to portray the death of someone who in any way suffers as somehow ‘undignified’, something we should be ashamed of permitting.”
They added that assisted suicide is “not a more dignified end to life than a natural end to one which has taken its natural course”.
“It is we; it is society itself that endows a person with dignity regardless of their health or sickness, not by bringing their life to an end”, the letter continued.
The leaders pointed to evidence from other countries, showing that when assisted suicide is legalised the number of cases increase and the terms are loosened.
They highlighted potential “unhealthy tensions” between patients and their carers, and stated that palliative care is “already very effective at alleviating suffering of the terminally ill”.
Life is sacred
The letter concluded, “we believe that life itself is sacred and that the law as it stands supports that belief”.
“A change in the law would dishonour God’s gift of life and lead into all sorts of unfortunate consequences”.