British Pro-Life Groups Question Poll Used to Promote Assisted Suicide Bill

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 10, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Pro-Life Groups Question Poll Used to Promote Assisted Suicide Bill Email this article
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by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
September 10, 2004

Washington, DC ( — Opponents of euthanasia in England are questioning the validity of a poll suggesting that nearly half of Britons would break the law to commit assisted suicide.

The Campaign Against Euthanasia says the survey, commissioned by the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, cannot be trusted.

"Typically the VES’s polls are presented in the media in distorted language to give them a pro-euthanasia bias," said the Campaign’s Alison Davis.

"The VES do not say what they mean when drawing up the questions, which is actually that they want terminally ill and disabled people to be able to ask a doctor to kill them," Davis said.

"The VES claim that 82% (of respondents) want the law to change to allow terminally ill people ‘medical help to die,’ but what they actually want is for doctors to be allowed to kill such people. They do not say what they really mean because they know that people would not support a question saying, ‘Do you think doctors should be allowed to kill their patients?’ Yet this is what they really seek to legalize," Davis added.

A committee in the House of Lords is now considering a bill that would clear the way for euthanasia in the UK. The measure, called the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill bill, is sponsored by Britain’s Lord Joffe.

As a person with disabilities, Davis realizes the challenges faced by those who suffer from serious health problems. But Davis, who has spina bifida, hydrocephalus, emphysema, and osteoporosis, says advocates of euthanasia are simply taking advantage of those in ill health.

"The VES make life so much harder for suffering people, because the questions they pose suggest that only by being killed by euthanasia will terminally ill people achieve a peaceful and ‘dignified’ death," Davis said. "In fact, with good palliative care, including access to hospice expertise, those will terminal and life-limiting illness can have a truly ‘good death’ which does not involve being deliberately killed."

Meanwhile, the Royal College of Nursing has come out against the legalization of assisted suicide and active voluntary euthanasia in the UK.

The College has said that its members have received an "overwhelming response" in opposition of Lord Joffe’s bill. The organization vowed to "reaffirm the core principles which lie at the heart of nursing: valuing life and ensuring patients are well cared for."

A spokesman for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children welcomed the nursing group’s statement.

"We strongly endorse the College’s analysis that Lord Joffe’s bill ‘normalizes the concept that some lives are not worth living which is contrary to a core nursing belief in the intrinsic value of life,’" said SPUC’s Anthony Ozimic.

Ozimic added, "Compassion in the natural dying process should not be confused with unnatural death through intentional killing."

Davis concedes that, at one time, she wanted to die and took "active steps" to end her life. If Lord Joffe’s bill had been in force at the time, she would have qualified for euthanasia.

"Euthanasia would have robbed me of the last nineteen years of my life, and no one would ever have known that the future held anything good for me," Davis said. "What suffering people like me really need is help and support to live with dignity until we die naturally."

"The VES imply that the choice is between an agonized death or euthanasia," Davis added. However, what vulnerable people like me really need is access to the best possible palliative care which will enable us to have a truly peaceful and dignified death when our time comes."

Related web sites:
Campaign Against Euthanasia –
Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) –