By Sarah Mac Donald - 04 September, 2015
The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales has urged the faithful to contact their MPs ahead of a vote on a private members’ bill seeking to legalise assisted suicide.
The bill is due to have its second reading debate in the House of Commons on Friday 11 September.
In a statement, Cardinal Vincent Nichols warned, “The intrinsic value of each human life will be gravely undermined if this or any bill to legalise assisted suicide were to become law.”
He also warned that it would also fundamentally change the ‘do no harm’ principle that underpins all medical practice.
He said these dangers are reflected in the significant opposition of medical professionals to the proposed bill.
Licensing doctors to supply lethal drugs to terminally ill patients to help them commit suicide rests upon the premise that some lives are worth less than others, the Cardinal stated.
He emphasised that it was therefore contrary to human dignity.
“Helping someone to commit suicide compromises the fundamental human dignity of both parties involved. Assisted suicide is assisted killing,” he warned.
Elsewhere in his statement, Dr Nichols said that those who are seriously or terminally ill deserve the best care that our society can give and must never be made to feel that they are a burden.
“We seek to support people in these circumstances, to the best of our abilities and resources. Palliative and end of life care have undergone significant advances in recent decades and we urge the government to continue to develop these services.”
Another concern he raised about the possible legalisation of assisted suicide is the impossibility of ensuring that people’s decisions will not be influenced by many kinds of pressure or coercion, not just from others but from within themselves.
He concluded by highlighting that MPs will face many different pressures in deciding how to vote and he urged the faithful to keep them in their prayers. “Each of us is made in the image of God. The life of every individual is equally valuable (Genesis 1:27).”