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ss CMF news - autumn 2006,  Ethics

Ethics

In the last twelve months we have seen wonderful answers to prayer in the battle to prevent euthanasia and physician assisted suicide being legalised in the UK. When we consider that last summer we were staring down the barrel of Lord Joffe's third bill in the House of Lords in as many years, the turnaround that has happened since has been truly amazing. First the RCGP and RCP abandoned their neutral positions on assisted dying in September 2005 and May 2006 respectively. Following that Joffe's Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill was resoundingly defeated in the House of Lords on 12 May 2006 by a 148-100 majority. The icing on the cake was when the BMA reversed its neutral stance at its annual representative meeting in June. Now the medical profession in this country is once again united against any change in the law.

CMF played a key role in all this with members writing letters, speaking on the media and in particular working through the Care not Killing Alliance, which now has over 35 organisations as members. Not surprisingly as a result we came under attack, and a complaint by Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris, which was vigorously refuted at the time, led to us receiving a letter from the Charity Commission enquiring about CMF's activities opposing euthanasia.We are happy to report that the Charity Commission on receiving our reply has now closed their investigation, fully satisfied that we are complying with their guidance.

What happens now? Lord Joffe has promised to introduce a fourth bill this autumn and we shall have to wait to see what it contains before we plan our response. The issue will not go away as long as there are people who wish to change the law – but we have shown that when faith groups, disabled people and doctors stand together on this issue, parliament and the public listen to our concerns and vote accordingly.

The Mental Capacity Act comes into force in Spring 2007 and will include provision for advance refusals of food and fluids. The CMF Study Group is currently working on a 'statement of values' that would be available to Christians considering drafting advance directives. The responses to the government consultation on the codes of practice that will accompany the Act have just been published.

Abortion

The abortion debate will resurface with the 39th anniversary of the Abortion Act on 27 October. High resolution ultrasound pictures of unborn children and more evidence on the psychological consequences of abortion for women continue to challenge public and parliamentary opinion and there is real evidence that the tide is turning. Please pray that it continues to do so.

CMF Files

There is no CMF File published this quarter but we are working on several new topics for 2007 and also a revision of some previously published files. The files continue to have wide distribution and influence amongst medical students and school students in the UK and abroad. The entire set is available in Chinese and now 16 of the 32 so far issued have been translated into Russian.We plan to publish a full set of Russian files by next July in time for the next CIS Christian Medical Students' Conference.

John Wyatt is Emeritus Professor of Neonatal Paediatrics at UCL and Senior Researcher at the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, University of Cambridge. He is currently leading a multidisciplinary research project into the social, philosophical and religious implications of advances in artificial intelligence and robotics,based at the Faraday Institute. He is also the President of CMF

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