Julia Neuberger Heading Liverpool Care Pathway Inquiry is Worrying

International   |   John Smeaton   |   Jan 16, 2013   |   2:38PM   |   London, England

The Government has just announced that Baroness Julia Neuberger, a rabbi and former Liberal Democrat health spokesperson, has been appointed to chair the government’s inquiry into the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) (see my blog last week on the LCP). This appointment is worrying. In 2011 she said in the annual Tyburn Lecture (my emphasis in bold):

“Just so everyone knows, let’s be very clear, I am not in favour of euthanasia, I am not in favour of physician-assisted suicide. I don’t think it is a good idea for our health professionals to kill their patients any more than they do accidentally, I just don’t think it is a good idea.

I do have some sympathy – and many people I think will disagree with me – I do have some sympathy with the idea that that people who are already terminally ill and finding their situation unbearable, that they should be given the wherewithal to take their own lives. I am sure that many people – those who are true Catholics will strongly disapprove of that and there are Jews who strongly disapprove of that – but I do have some sympathy because there are some people for whom actually life becomes unbearable when they can’t control the pain. I think it is the exception. All the experience where that has been tried, for instance, in Washington State in the United States has shown that when people are given the wherewithal they barely ever use it, which suggests they want the reassurance rather than the actual capacity to deal with it.”

But there are few ethical differences between euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (which she claims to oppose) and suicide assisted by non-physicians (for which she expresses sympathy). In all those three categories, the intentional killing of an innocent member of the human family is brought about.

And in 2005 she voted against an anti-euthanasia amendment to the pro-euthanasia Mental Capacity Bill (now Act). The amendment would have removed the ability of attorneys to deny life-sustaining treatment to mentally-incapacitated patients.



One of the most worrying claims about the nature and operation of the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) relates to euthanasia by omission (sometimes called euthanasia by neglect) – the  denial of life-sustaining care (food and/or fluids) and/or reasonable medical treatment. Her vote against the amendment should disqualify her from the chairmanship of any inquiry into the LCP.

LifeNews.com Note: John Smeaton is the director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), a leading pro-life group in the UK.