Friday, 18 July 2014

Fears for safety of vulnerable people as assisted suicide is debated in House of Lords

Baroness Jane Campbell
Fears for the safety of vulnerable people - terminally-ill, disabled or elderly - figured strongly in the House of Lords debate on Lord Falconer's Assisted Dying Bill today.

Regrettably, the bill was allowed to proceed for further consideration by the House of Lords, though its ultimate outcome remains uncertain.

The bill's opponents gave excellent speeches and focused on the bill's many dangers and problems. Regrettably, those opponents did not call for a vote, which could have stopped the bill.

Those who favoured the bill pointed to the ultimatum in the Supreme Court's recent Nicklinson judgment. The Supreme Court threatened that if Parliament did not debate assisted suicide, the courts might declare the current law incompatible with human rights, thereby forcing the government to introduce legislation.

Many speeches in today's debate rehearsed issues which had been raised in Lord Joffe's assisted suicide bills (2004-2006) and Lord Falconer's previous attempts to change the law.

Lord Tebbit argued forcefully that weakening the protection of terminally-ill people would leave them at the mercy of "vultures" – money-grasping relatives.
Baroness Kennedy said that, while the bill offer 'choice' to those in terminal illness, the modern popular notion of 'choice' was both a lure and a snare.

The Anglican Bishop of Bristol and others pointed to the change of mind of Dr Theo Boer of the Netherlands, previously a supporter of euthanasia, who now wishes it were possible to "put the genie back in the bottle."

Viscount Colville noted how the bill failed to provide any adequate check that people supposedly choosing freely to die were of sound mind.

The slippery slope argument – that the bill will lead to much more extensive killing – was widely canvassed by both sides. Some rejected this argument outright, but others, such as disabled peer Baroness Campbell asserted it forcefully. Baroness Cumberledge said the bill was not so much a slippery slope as an ice-cliff.

Many peers on both sides of the debate mentioned the many letters they had received from members of the public and how these had influenced their thinking. A number of peers quoted personal stories from letters, and several indicated that correspondence had helped to shape their thinking on the bill.

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A moving account why Lord Falconer's assisted suicide bill is wrong

Matthew Schellhorn, a highly-regarded classical pianist, has kindly given me permission to reproduce below his moving account of his late mother's terminal illness and his insightful arguments against Lord Falconer's assisted suicide bill, being debated at Second Reading today:
Living life to the full

When my mum was diagnosed with late-stage cancer she turned to me and said, ‘We will get through it.’ At the time, I did not know what that could possibly mean.

Looking after my mum disrupted my normal life. Being her carer took away my time. It made me lose interest in music and endangered professional opportunities. It also dragged my pregnant wife and young son into a world of commodes, hoists, medication and round-the-clock worry.

But amidst the difficulties we all built our motivation on one solid belief, that life was something precious, something to be celebrated, cherished and affirmed. As mum’s health declined and the opportunities for ‘normal life’ decreased, the possibilities expanded. We lived the paradox that when there are limits to life the freedom is greater. Mum knew that positive experiences would sustain the bereaved left behind: that further altruism gave her life some meaning.

I am so glad I did not have to discuss the Assisted Dying Bill with my terminally ill mother. I think that if my mum had lived to know about this Bill it might well have destroyed all our happy experiences. I think she would have been terrified to know that the same doctors so keen to see her enjoying life, even in a limited way, might be perfectly willing to help her to end her life, should she have so chosen. It would have destroyed the relationship of trust to know that there were no boundaries between healthcare professionals and patients. And it would have demoralised her carers, who together worked towards making life comfortable, to think that their efforts might be considered futile.

It would also have increased my mother’s vulnerability. As she lay in bed for 23 hours a day in our living room I knew she was already self-conscious about the enormous strain put on us. Numerous times she took decisions about routine and food that she presumed would alleviate any difficulties in our family life. The sanctioning of that inclination, the condoning of any despair, might well tip the balance in favour of a fatal outcome ahead of further positive experiences. As I tried enormously hard to remove all suggestion that her presence was an unwelcome burden, there could have been an altogether more powerful tacit force undermining me.

Although it has made for uncomfortable reading, I have considered the arguments in favour of this Bill. Lord Carey and Desmond Tutu have given their reasons why it is ‘compassionate’ to provide an exit door to the terminally ill ahead of their natural demise. The Care Minister, Norman Lamb, thinks people should be able ‘to make their own decision about their life’.

These ways of thinking contradict established medical ethics and fly in the face of all logic. The life of a physically sick person is worth as much as a physically healthy person. Importantly, the person in question gains happiness from experiencing that truth. Now that the dust has settled, I see we ‘got through’ terminal illness, each in our own way. That is why I oppose this Bill.
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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Book now for SPUC's national conference, 5-7 September

Bishop Philip Egan
***Book before 31 July for a £20 discount***

SPUC's national conference takes place once again at the Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire, from 5-7 September. This will be a fantastic opportunity to hear international speakers on a range of pro-life topics, and get up to date with all SPUC’s campaigns. It is a must for all SPUC branches. We are delighted that our speakers this year will include:
See the conference programme

To book, download the booking form and return it to SPUC with the conference fee. Book before 31 July for a £20 discount

If you have any questions about the conference, please contact Katherine Hampton, the conference organiser, by email to or by telephone on 020 7820 3137.

Speaker profiles:

Bishop Philip Egan
Roman Catholic bishop of Portsmouth, who responded firmly to criticism from pro-abortion Catholic MPs who were appalled when he said political advocates of abortion and same-sex “marriage” should not present themselves to receive Communion. Bishop Egan spoke out against the Liverpool Care Pathway, and strongly defended doctors who respect life.  In a recent interview he said that, “Abortion, euthanasia, eugenics, [and] assisted suicide gravely degrade and undermine respect for the dignity and value of human life”. Bishop Egan issued an important statement on the passing of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, which made clear that same-sex marriage is "the inevitable outcome" of the rejection of the intrinsic link between the unitive and procreative aspects of sexual intercourse, the link taught in Pope Paul VI's encyclical "Humanae Vitae". Bishop Egan needs our prayers and support for his courageous pro-life stand, and we are very excited that he will be speaking at the conference.

Dr. Greg Gardner MRCGP
Hon. tutor in General Practice, University of Birmingham, who will be speaking about the GMC and its tacit involvement in colluding with pre-signing of abortion consent forms. Dr. Gardner is a GP at an inner city practice in Birmingham. He is a member of the Christian Medical Fellowship and writes and speaks widely against abortion. He has been an adviser to SPUC on literature for GPs.

Obianuju Ekeocha
Runs Culture of Life Africa, an internet-based resource which monitors and publicises the attacks on the culture of life in her home continent of Africa. Obianuju organised the first ever pro-life conference in her native Nigeria in June 2013. She is outspoken against first world countries deluging the world’s poorest countries, most of them in Africa, with contraception and abortion.

Colin Harte
Carer of the late Alison Davis, who will speak on, “Suffering for what we value: the legacy of Alison Davis.” Alison was the co-ordinator of SPUC group, ‘No Less Human’.

Jim Hughes
National President of Campaign Life Coalition in Canada.

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Tuesday, 15 July 2014

SPUC Pro-Life urges supporters to keep lobbying against Falconer assisted suicide bill

Following a decision by a group of Peers, opposed to Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill, not to vote against the Bill at its Second Reading debate this Friday (18 July), SPUC Pro-Life is urging supporters to keep on lobbying members of the House of Lords both to oppose and to vote against the Bill. SPUC Pro-Life is a leading anti-euthanasia group which was represented officially in the High Court in the Diane Pretty and Debbie Purdy assisted suicide cases.

In a letter published in today's Times the group of Peers said:

"In the light of the opinion expressed recently by the Supreme Court that Parliament should consider whether, and if so how, the law should be changed, we believe, albeit reluctantly, that the bill should have an unopposed second reading and proceed to its committee stage."
SPUC told the media earlier today:
"By deciding not to vote against the Bill at Second Reading, this group of Peers is bowing to the flawed opinions of biased judges and to questionable parliamentary convention, rather than the urgent need to protect the right to life. The Bill does not need to be debated by Parliament, either in general or in detail. Assisted suicide was debated in the last parliamentary session and in previous sessions and does not deserve further consideration.

The Falconer bill is a dangerous and deceitful proposal, which will lead to wider and wider demands for disabled people and others to be granted a 'right to die'."
The Supreme Court has threatened to overturn the existing law if Parliament does not allow people to help others commit suicide. The media and a number of celebrities are ranged against the pro-life position.

Mark Davies, the Catholic bishop of Shrewsbury, has said of the Falconer bill:
"... whilst we recall the heroism of generations before us, we must not fail to recognise the great challenge for our own generation. We are now being called upon to defend the sanctity of human life amidst the growing threats against it."
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