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CMF Submission to the Isle of Man Assisted Dying - Private Members' Bill Consultation

Published: 26th January 2023

'Terminal illness' is defined as 'a progressive disease, which can reasonably be expected to cause death.' We appreciate that it can be fiendishly difficult accurately to predict how long a patient with a terminal illness might 'reasonably be expected' to survive. In one sense, life itself could be described as a terminal illness - one in one of us dies eventually. But in another, less frivolous sense, equating a terminal illness with a progressive illness that can reasonably be expected to cause death, without any mention of a time limit, captures a whole range of progressive illnesses that may (or may not)eventually prove fatal but perhaps not for five or ten years, or even longer. Conditions such as muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, progressive pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronicheart failure, dementia etc, are all captured by this definition. In many cases, when well-managed, they are compatible with life over many years. High quality palliative care can control symptoms in almost all cases. The 'intolerable' can become tolerable. We suggest these (and other) ultimately fatal diseases do not fall within the scope of the term 'terminal illnesses' as commonly understood. As presently worded, the proposals would make assistance to die available to people who will not imminently die of their illness but who choose to end their lives for other reasons, even to those with existential angst or simple weariness with life. While we fundamentally oppose such a Bill in its entirety, if it were to go forward, we would strongly suggest that the phrase 'within six months' be added to the definition of terminal illness so that it reads 'a progressive illness, which can reasonably be expected to cause death within six months.' Far from strengthening safeguards, the current wording bypasses this safeguard that has been proposed in similar Bills in other jurisdictions.
Read the full CMF submission

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:
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