British Prime Minister Gordon Brown Confirms Opposition to Assisted Suicide Bill

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 30, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown Confirms Opposition to Assisted Suicide Bill

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 30
, 2008

London, England ( — British Prime Minister Gordon Brown hinted at opposing a bill to legalize assisted suicide in England and, in a Tuesday interview, made that opposition solid. Brown engaged in an interview with Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster, a guest host of the Today program on Radio 4.

Brown said he would block any legislation to legalize assisted suicide and he said he believed British law should make “absolutely clear” that it recognizes the value of human life.

"I am totally against laws [allowing assisted suicide or euthanasia]," Brown said. "It is not really for us to create any legislation that would put pressure on people to feel they had to offer themselves because they were causing trouble to a relative or anyone else."

“I think we have got to make it absolutely clear that the importance of human life is recognized," the British governmental leader added.

Earlier this month, Brown told members of Parliament that he opposes legislation that would legalize assisted suicide.

"It is necessary to ensure that there is never a case in which a sick or elderly person feels under pressure to agree to an assisted death or that it is the expected thing to do," Brown said. "That is why I have always opposed legislation on assisted death."

Brown, according to the pro-life group SPUC, also said that it was a matter of conscience on which parliamentary opinions differed — which could open the door to a private member’s bill despite his opposition.

His comments in both instances coincide with the showing of the assisted suicide death of 59-year-old Craig Ewert, who had motor neurone disease, on the Sky Real Lives channel.

Several pro-life groups have already condemned the showing of Ewert’s death, and Care Not Killing, an alliance of groups opposing euthanasia, joined the chorus. The group says the program was a cynical attempt to get a big audience and it glorified assisted dying.

Though pro-life groups condemned the documentary, it prompted euthanasia advocates to call for allowing assisted suicides and making it clear that people who go to other nations to kill their loved ones will not face prosecution when they return.

James Harris, an official with the pro-euthanasia group Dignity in Dying, told the London Times he is upset by Brown’s comments.

“It should not be for Gordon Brown or Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor to decide when a dying adult’s suffering should end," he said.

Harris also denied that there was abuse of assisted suicide laws in any nations where they are legal even though research in Oregon has shown patients who should have had psychological evaluations to treat depression were not given them before the lethal prescriptions were given.

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