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Bishop: 'Assisted suicide would give unaccountable power to medics'

Assisted Suicide
25 January 2022
Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia 28p129 3 0

Legalising assisted suicide would hand "unaccountable" power to doctors and risk terrible abuses, a Bishop has warned.

The Right Reverend James Jones, former Bishop of Liverpool, said his experience has taught him that people in power can't always be trusted when it comes to care for the terminally ill.

The Bishop was previously charged with investigating Gosport hospital deaths, and he chaired an independent review of the Hillsborough tragedy. In a letter to Peers sent on Saturday, he wrote:

“To change the culture of caring in favour of providing ‘medical assistance’ for patients to ‘end their own lives’ creates too many risks and leaves us unprotected from the patronising way in which institutions, including sadly Hospital Trusts, can behave towards ordinary people.”

“I do not share their assumption [of assisted suicide campaigners] that the treatment of the seriously ill will always be benign in the hands of the State. I fear the patronising disposition of unaccountable power in our institutions when treating those who have little power to speak up for themselves.

“I know that noble Lords would expect those with power to act in a benign way, but my knowledge of what happened after the Hillsborough Disaster and allegedly at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital and elsewhere where ordinary people have been badly treated gives me no such confidence.”

Earlier this month, it emerged that campaigners are attempting to hijack UK Government healthcare plans to introduce physician-assisted suicide (PAS) in England and Wales.

Conservative Peer Lord Forsyth has lodged an amendment to the Health and Care Bill that would require Ministers to bring forward ‘Assisted Dying’ legislation within a year of the Act coming into force.

If the amendment is selected, it could be voted on by members of the House of Lord at Report stage, which will take place in the next few weeks.

At the time, James Mildred, Chief Communications Officer at CARE, commented:

"This attempt to hijack legislation designed to improve the NHS to usher in physician-assisted suicide is deeply cynical – particularly when member’s legislation on this issue is already before parliament. Campaigners are trying to introduce huge and controversial law changes via the back door.

“Evidence from overseas shows that introducing assisted suicide and euthanasia undermines the quality of healthcare available to people at the end of life. It results in pressure on the most vulnerable, and it undermines the dignity and equality of marginalised citizens.

“We hope Peers will see past this attempt to hijack government healthcare proposals and reject this amendment at the earliest possible stage.”

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Assisted Suicide

Where assisted suicide is legal, it makes vulnerable people feel like a burden. CARE works to uphold laws that protect those people, and to assist them to live—not to commit suicide.

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