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Christian Medical Fellowship urges Christians to Contribute to Assisted Dying Consultation

Published: 27th July 2004

Proposed Bill flies in the face of foundations of medicine says CMF

The Christian Medical Fellowship has today called on Christians to protest against an attempt by a member of the House of Lords to legalise 'Dutch-style' euthanasia throughout Britain.

Lord Joffe's Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill, which passed its second reading in the House of Lords in March, is now being considered by a Select Committee, where it can be rejected or amended. The bill seeks to legalise assisted suicide for competent adult patients who are 'terminally ill' and 'suffering unbearably'. Patients who are unable to participate in assisted suicide will be able to receive euthanasia and all that will be required are the signatures of two doctors and two witnesses to the decision. The public is invited to contribute to the consultation process by sending their views in writing, or by email, to the Select Committee by 3 September 2004.

Peter Saunders, General Secretary of the Christian Medical Fellowship, commented: “CMF is strongly opposed to the Bill because we believe, if passed, it would open the floodgates to euthanasia in this country.” Worryingly, so far, the Committee has received thousands of letters from supporters of euthanasia and virtually none from those who oppose legalising it.”

Saunders continued: “Any change in the law to allow assisted suicide (whether by doctors or relatives) would threaten the trust necessary for the doctor-patient relationship to function, place pressure on patients (whether real or imagined) to request early death, and introduce a slippery slope leading to voluntary and involuntary euthanasia. Such legislation would be impossible to police and might well undermine the development of palliative care services.

“A bill legalising euthanasia would change the whole character of medicine, which is aimed at relieving symptoms, treating illness and preserving life. The Hippocratic Oath enjoins doctors to 'give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest such counsel'. For a doctor to kill a patient violates all historical and ethical codes and it also makes the doctor the most dangerous person in the State. The bill would also effectively legalise euthanasia for all patients, whether they are capable of carrying out assisted suicide or not, simply because assisted suicide often fails, thereby requiring a doctor to step in to finish the process.

“It is also noteworthy that in 1994, the House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics opposed any change in the law to allow euthanasia after an extensive enquiry and concluded 'it was virtually impossible to ensure that all acts of euthanasia were truly voluntary and that any liberalisation of the law in the United Kingdom could not be abused'.”

Further information is available on the CMF website at www.cmf.org.uk. The full text of the bill is available at: www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200304/ldbills/017/2004017.pdf

To contribute to the consultation write to:

The Select Committee on the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill [HL],
Committee Office,
House of Lords,
London, SW1A 0PW;
Email: assisteddyingbill@parliament.uk

For further information:

Steven Fouch (CMF Head of Communications) 020 7234 9668

Media Enquiries:

Alistair Thompson on 07970 162 225

About CMF:

Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) was founded in 1949 and is an interdenominational organisation with over 5,000 doctors, 900medical and nursing students and 300 nurses and midwives as members in all branches of medicine, nursing and midwifery. A registered charity, it is linked to over 100 similar bodies in other countries throughout the world.

CMF exists to unite Christian healthcare professionals to pursue the highest ethical standards in Christian and professional life and to increase faith in Christ and acceptance of his ethical teaching.

Christian Medical Fellowship:
uniting & equipping Christian doctors & nurses
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