Published: 14th June 2005
The Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship and Christian Medical Fellowship have urged Christians to respond to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics’ consultation on the ethics of prolonging life in fetuses and the newborn. The consultation, which was to have closed last Thursday, has now been extended until 23 June.
Spokesperson and Public Policy Officer for the LCF, Andrea Minichiello Williams, stated, “This consultation is extremely important. In John’s Gospel there is a new commandment to ‘love one another as I have loved you. If there is love among you then everyone will know you are my disciples’. The matters this Working Party considers strike at the heart of a healthy society and what it means to respect one another.”
She continued, “When we begin to assess another person’s quality of life or value which historically and in law has always been subject to an overriding sense of sacredness, or otherness, or givenness of life, we are in danger of reducing the value we place on one another to something akin to property rights – society having the right freely to dispose of what it owns from a fetus to a life particularly when the life is deemed of ‘less worth’.”
Peter Saunders, General Secretary of the CMF, stated ‘All human beings are worthy of the utmost respect, empathy, compassionate care and protection from abuse or harm. The mark of a humane society is that it takes special care to look after the most vulnerable – and who is more vulnerable than a fetus and extremely preterm or malformed neonate?’
‘There are untreatable or lethal clinical conditions for which invasive medical technology cannot bring a cure, and where we must focus instead on providing the best palliative care available. In these circumstances, withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatment may be appropriate and ethical. But we need to recognise that the outcome for any individual fetus or neonate depends on a wide range of contingencies and uncertainties which cannot be quantified or predicted with any degree of accuracy. If there is any doubt, babies, unborn or newborn, must be given the benefit of that doubt.’
The Consultation Paper and how to respond can be found at the Nuffield Council on Bioethics webpage at www.nuffieldbioethics.org. The CMF response is available in full on this site. The LCF response can be found at www.lawcf.org.
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.