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Westcountry Bishops oppose assisted suicide law | Western Morning News

Westcountry Bishops oppose assisted suicide law | Western Morning News.

 

Two leading Westcountry churchmen have spoken out against assisted suicide after a dramatic U-turn by the former Archbishop of Canterbury.

Lord Carey, writing in a national newspaper, said he now supported a change in the law.

Lord Carey said it would not be “anti-Christian” to change the law, and that he would be backing legislation tabled by Lord Falconer which proposes allowing doctors to prescribe a lethal dose to terminally ill patients judged to have less than six months to live.

Lord Falconer’s Bill will be debated on Friday in the House of Lords.

The Right Rev Mark O’Toole, Roman Catholic Bishop of Plymouth, said in his pastoral letter this weekend: “Our faith teaches us that all human life is sacred. Respecting life means that every person must be valued for as long as they live …. It is God who remains the sovereign master of life.”

He added that the new Bill “raises serious questions about what sort of society we want to be”.

Bishop Mark called for more to be invested in care of the dying.

He warned that the new Bill could “open the floodgates” and put pressure on the elderly and vulnerable to seek “assisted dying”.

The Bishop of Exeter, the Right Rev Robert Atwell, told the WMN on Sunday: “I am totally committed to ensuring the best end-of-life care for sick children and people of all ages.

“However well intentioned, the proposed Assisted Dying Bill would result in a dangerous long-term shift in medical practice and culture.

“The vulnerable and terminally ill need to be protected, not pressured.”

Bishop Robert worked in a hospice before becoming a vicar and was an ethical adviser on palliative care for the health authority in London.

The widow of a man who had campaigned for the right-to-die has welcomed Lord Carey’s U-turn.

Jane Nicklinson, whose husband Tony had locked-in syndrome and died almost two years ago aged 58, said she was “amazed and thrilled” at Lord Carey’s U-turn.

She said her husband would have been “really pleased”.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Lord Carey said his change in stance on legalising assisted dying was inspired by Mr Nicklinson.

“It was the case of Tony Nicklinson that exerted the deepest influence on me,” he wrote.

“Here was a dignified man making a simple appeal for mercy, begging that the law allow him to die in peace, supported by his family. His distress made me question my motives in previous debates. Had I been putting doctrine before compassion, dogma before human dignity?”

Mrs Nicklinson told BBC 5 Live: “I’m amazed and thrilled because the Church has always been one of our greatest opponents.

“I think Tony moved a lot of people but to hear he moved someone in such a prominent position – someone who is willing to come out and openly support our position – I’m just over the moon about it.”

Mrs Nicklinson and paralysed former builder Paul Lamb lost a right-to-die fight in the UK’s highest court last month, but at the time said they were optimistic that change would come.

In a statement the Church of England stood by the General Synod’s opposition to assisted suicide.

 


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