British Parliament Will Consider Assisted Suicide Bill, Pro-Life Group Concerned
by Steven Ertelt
December 4, 2008
London, England (LifeNews.com) — A new piece of legislation, the Coroners and Justice Bill, which British Parliament officials announced at the start of the parliamentary year, will deal with assisted suicide. The measure, would reportedly modernize the law "to increase public understanding."
What that means, however, is another question.
The bill could make it more clear when people would be charged under the law for aiding in an assisted suicide, as in the case of Debbie Purdy.
In October, the British High Court ruled against Purdy, a disabled woman who wants to travel to Switzerland to kill herself at a euthanasia center and doesn’t want her family charged when they return.
Purdy filed a lawsuit against officials in England to make them reveal when they will charge someone.
British law calls for 14 years in prison for assisting a suicide, although none of the relatives or friends of the people who have killed themselves in western Europe have been brought to trial for violating the law by taking their loved ones to the centers.
Purdy worried she could be the first.
The measure could also pave the way for England to overturn the law and join other western European nations in allowing assisted suicide.
In May 2006, the British House of Lords voted 148-100 against a bill that would have legalized assisted suicide in England, but euthanasia proponents have been angling for another chance.
John Smeaton, the director of the pro-life group Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, explained some of the concerns on Thursday.
"We are concerned that radical, so-called right-to-die MPs or peers – urged on by media coverage for assertions that some elderly people have a so-called duty to die – might seek to use the bill to weaken the legal protection of the right to life," Smeaton says.
"SPUC is calling on the government to give an assurance that its plans are limited to its stated aims of preventing the online promotion of suicide and suicide methods," he added.
"We are therefore also calling upon the government and parliamentarians to block any attempts to use the Coroners and Justice bill to weaken in any way the Suicide Act 1961 and the existing legal prohibition on assisted suicide," Smeaton concluded.
Related web sites:
SPUC – https://www.spuc.org.uk
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