Published: 11th November 2004
The Christian Medical Fellowship has urged Christians to stand in the way of new laws that will allow 'Dutch-style' euthanasia to take place in Britain.
Lord Joffe's Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill, which is currently at the Select Committee stage, 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. Opinion among the members of the Select Committee is divided but indications are that a majority are now in favour of the Bill. A course of action will be recommended to the House of Lords early in the New Year.
Both the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) have chosen not to oppose the Bill and in giving evidence to the Select Committee the RCP has spoken on behalf of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, without properly consulting these colleges or its own membership. This along with straw polls of doctors' opinions conducted by the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, appear to have influenced the committee. In fact most professional medical bodies including the British Medical Association, the General Medical Council, Royal College of Nursing, the Association of Palliative Care Specialists and the Christian Medical Fellowship remain firmly opposed to the bill.
Peter Saunders, General Secretary of the Christian Medical Fellowship, warned: “CMF is strongly opposed to the Bill because we believe, if passed, it would open the floodgates to euthanasia in this country.
“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.”
Saunders continued; “The decision as to whether this bill becomes law is currently poised on a knife edge. In the strongest possible terms CMF is encouraging Christians to write, either to their MP or to members of the Select Committee at the House of Lords to register their concern, disapproval and anger at the proposed legislation.”
People can write to members of the Select Committee at The House of Lords, SW1A 0PW;
Earl of Arran
Bishop of St Albans
Lord Carlile of Berriew
Baroness Finlay of Llandaff
Baroness Jay of Paddington
Lord Mackay of Clashfern (Chairman)
Lord McColl of Dulwich
Baroness Thomas of Walliswood
Philippa Taylor (CMF Head of Public Policy) 020 7234 9664
Steven Fouch (CMF Head of Communications) 020 7234 9668
Alistair Thompson on 07970 162 225
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.