Euthanasia: In search of a compassionate response

Oct 19, 2021 by

by Heather Tomlinson, Premier:

As the campaign to legalise assisted dying ramps up, Heather Tomlinson explains why Christians need to reassess their assumptions about individualism and personal autonomy.

To many people today, euthanasia seems rational. Shouldn’t someone who is facing a cruel death have the right to control the end of their own life and avoid unnecessary suffering, we ask? Dignity in Dying – once called the Voluntary Euthanasia Legalisation Society – regularly publishes stories of people experiencing great suffering who say that they want to be able to leave this world on their own terms – and they seem to be persuading the nation.

A recent YouGov survey showed that 73 per cent of the general population think doctors should be able to help someone with terminal illness end their life, while 50 per cent believe the same applies to people suffering from a painful but incurable illness, even if it isn’t terminal.

But what about the opinions of those in our churches? Some highprofile, conservative Christians, such as Lord George Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, have been persuaded. Writing in the Daily Mail he said: “In strictly observing the sanctity of life, the Church could now actually be sanctioning anguish and pain, the very opposite of the Christian message of hope.”

This year, the UK is facing two renewed efforts to change the law in both Westminster and the Scottish Parliaments, and pro-life campaigners think it is the most serious threat yet. Baroness Meacher introduced a bill to the House of Lords earlier in the year to allow doctors to assist with suicide for people with less than six months to live. It is likely to be debated in the Commons this autumn. A similar law will likely be introduced in the Scottish Parliament too.

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