UK Assisted Suicide Amendment Defeated

Politicians Defend Disabled Persons

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LONDON, JULY 8, 2009 (Zenit.org).- An amendment that proposed legalizing assisted suicide was defeated Tuesday evening in the House of Lords.



The London-based Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, an anti-euthanasia lobby group, reported that the amendment to the Coroners and Justice Bill, which would have allowed aiding the terminally ill to seek assisted suicide abroad, was rejected in a vote of 194 to 141.

The group's general secretary, Paul Tully, affirmed that this is a "significant victory for the right to life."

He explained: "Time and again Parliament has blocked attempts to undermine the protective ban on assisted suicide.

"It's time for the Voluntary Euthanasia Society -- now repackaged as Dignity in Dying -- to drop its parliamentary campaign, a campaign which is offensive to very many people who live with, or care for those with, disability or terminal illness."

Baroness Jane Campbell, disability rights advocate who herself suffers from a debilitating spinal muscular atrophy, spoke against this amendment, asserting that it would send a message of despair to the disabled and the terminally ill.

She warned that the proposed bill could change public opinion toward disabled persons, encouraging them to end their lives.

Disadvantaged

The Church of England's Bishop Michael Langrish of Exeter, who has a 30-year-old daughter with Down's Syndrome, asserted that disabled people or those dependent on others for making decisions will be harmed by an assisted suicide law.

He pointed out that these persons may internalize the idea that "others know best," leaving them "severely disadvantaged by such so-called choices."

Baron John Walton of Detchant, a physician, brought up the point that palliative care has actually declined after the legalization of euthanasia in the Netherlands.

Last March, Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff spoke against the proposed amendment, noting that many people "have already heard suggestions" that they are wasting resources and the lives of others, and thus "should consider whether they have a duty to die."

Right now, the prelate affirmed, they are protected by the law that makes assisted suicide illegal.

However, he added, "if it is made legal in certain situations, that would open a door not just for the self-possessed and self-confident minority who are sure they want it, but for many more who might persuade themselves, or be subtly persuaded by others, that that is the best course for them -- and for those around them."

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On the Net:

Society for the Protection of Unborn Children: www.spuc.org.uk