Religious Leaders Unite Against Right-to-Die Bill

British House of Lords Rejects "Mercy Killing" Measure

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LONDON, MAY 12, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The right to die could easily become "a duty to die," three religious leaders in Britain warned as a controversial "mercy killing" bill underwent debate.



Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of Westminster, Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury and Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks published a joint letter today in the Times against the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill.

The bill, in fact, was defeated in a vote in the House of Lords today. It would have allowed terminally-ill patients to request their own death.

The three religious leaders previously issued joint statements, but rarely on legislation up for debate in Parliament, reported the Times.

Their letter states: "We are opposed to this bill and to any measure that seeks to legalize assisted suicide or euthanasia. We believe that all human life is sacred and God-given with a value that is inherent, not conditional."

The religious leaders called on peers to withhold support during the debate, and warned that a right to die could become, for the terminally ill, a "duty to die."

They said: "Were such a law enacted, the elderly, lonely, sick or distressed would find themselves under pressure, real or imagined, to ask for an early death."

Some 90 members of the House of Lords spoke in the debate on the bill, including many medical doctors and disabled persons who spoke strongly against the measure.

Paul Tully, secretary-general for the London-based Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, commented that the "bill runs counter to the right to life of gravely ill and dying people, and would undermine the status of elderly and disabled people."