British Assisted Suicide Bill Died Thanks to Church, Pro-Life Coalition Efforts

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 16, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Assisted Suicide Bill Died Thanks to Church, Pro-Life Coalition Efforts Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 16, 2006

London, England ( — After the British House of Lords voted 148-100 last week against a bill that would have legalized assisted suicide in England, pro-life groups applauded the vote and say they will continue to fight against allowing the grisly practice.

"We congratulate the members of the House of Lords who were successful in defeating this dangerous Bill," Julia Millington of the ProLife Alliance said in response.

Millington said the victory was made possible in part by the cooperation of various groups. Pro-life organizations joined with disability rights advocates, doctors, hospice groups and others to oppose the measure.

"This result reflects the concerns of many in the UK, in particular the medical profession and disability groups who are overwhelmingly opposed to the legalization of assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia," Millington said.

"Legislation that permits doctors to assist in suicide, fundamentally changes the role of doctor from someone who cures or cares to a killer. We will continue to resist any change in the law," Millington added.

Religious groups also helped lead the efforts against the bill and the vote against it was seen as a victory for the Catholic Church in England and Wales, which began a campaign in March to collect more than 100,000 signatures on petitions that it presented to members of the House of Lords.

Lord Joffe, sponsor of the bill, told members of the upper chamber that the letters represented a lobbying campaign and not the true feelings of Britons.

He said the letters "from some of the relatively small number of deeply committed Christian worshippers," were the "result of a massive political campaign by the churches, led by the Catholic archbishop of Cardiff (Wales)."

Baroness Jay, a supporter of the bill, agreed and blamed the church efforts on the bill’s defeat.

"What has happened today is that the churches have mobilized what is a very unpleasant political campaign outside the (House of) Lords, which nonetheless has affected people within it," she told a local television station. "This is a blocking of the democratic process."

A spokesman for the pro-euthanasia group Dying With Dignity told journalists that it hopes to bring back the bill in the next session of the British parliament. When that happens, pro-life groups and others will use the democratic process again to stop it.

Related web sites:
UK Pro-Life Alliance –