Justin Welby: Assisted suicide could harm society

Legalising assisted suicide could change the very nature of society, the Archbishop of Canterbury has warned MPs.

Writing ahead of a vote on the issue on Friday, Justin Welby said “respect for the lives of others” ought “not to be abandoned”.

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, the Chief Rabbi and the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain were among the other religious leaders who also spoke out, in a letter to MPs.

Huge gamble

Justin Welby wrote in an article for the Observer newspaper, “MPs are being asked to take a huge gamble that a changed law would protect the vulnerable”, adding that “insidious pressure” could come from relatives.

The Archbishop said he was concerned that a change in the law could change society, noting that at present everything possible is done to help the vulnerable.

Affirm life

“We can show that we love even when people have given up on caring for themselves.

MPs are being asked to take a huge gamble

Justin Welby

“We can support our doctors and nurses as they act consistently in the best interests of their patients, affirming life and caring for the vulnerable.”

He said this was at risk and could be replaced by a culture “where each life is no longer seen as worth protecting, worth honouring, worth fighting for”.


MP Rob Marris’ Bill, to be debated on Friday 11 September, would allow patients who are thought to have less than six months to live to obtain lethal drugs to kill themselves.

Church leaders in Marris’ city of Wolverhampton wrote a letter expressing their concerns about the Bill, saying they had “no choice but to speak out for the many who disagree strongly with it and feel endangered by it”.

They 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”.

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