British Pro-Life Advocates Worry About Future Bill to Legalize Assisted Suicide

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 12, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Pro-Life Advocates Worry About Future Bill to Legalize Assisted Suicide

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
November 12
, 2008

London, England (LifeNews.com) — Leading pro-life advocate John Smeaton of the British pro-life group SPUC is taking on MP Evan Harris, who, as Smeaton says, has attempted to mislead the English people by inventing a false distinction between assisted suicide and the taking of lethal doses at euthanasia centers in Switzerland.

Smeaton says a speech Harris gave yesterday was "disgraceful."

Harris said that, because patients have a legal right to refuse medical treatment, they should also have a right to receive assistance to die (i.e. to commit suicide by lethal dose).

"The end result is the same, and the wish is the same; it is only the activity or passivity that is different," the member of Parliament said.

Smeaton wrote on Wednesday that his group has frequently quoted Dr Helga Kuhse, the utilitarian bioethicist, who, as then-president of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies, made some alarming remarks in 1984.

"If we can get people to accept the removal of all treatment and care–especially the removal of food and fluids–they will see what a painful way this is to die and then, in the patient’s best interests, they will accept the lethal injection," she said at the time.

"SPUC has also warned that the Mental Capacity Act 2005, which in certain circumstances gives legal force to killings by denial of food and fluids, will lead to calls for killings by lethal dose," Smeaton wrote.

"Lord Joffe has said recently that he will re-introduce his bill to decriminalize assisted suicide by lethal dose, which after several attempts was rejected by the House of Lords in 2006," the pro-life advocate warned.

Smeaton is also concerned about comments from the spokesman for the Conservative party in yesterday’s adjournment debate.

Edward Garnier said that British lawmakers would eventually "have to come to grips" with legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia over the next few years.

Smeaton concludes: "As I have warned before, pro-lifers should not put their faith in a future Conservative government on pro-life matters."

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