Campaigners for a change of the law on assisted suicide are failing to provide answers to complex issues like protecting the terminally ill and disabled people from pressure to end their lives early, the Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) has said.
MPs are pushing again for the legalisation of assisted suicide with the introduction of fresh legislation to Parliament last month.
The legislation seeks to permit assisted suicide for terminally ill people with less than six months to live, subject to approval by two doctors and a High Court judge.
The private member’s bill is expected to have its second reading in the autumn.
A YouGov poll published on Sunday found broad support for a change to the law among people of faith. In the survey of more than 5,000 adults, over half (53%) of those with a faith said their religious leaders should not have lobbied MPs to vote against a change to the law in 2015,
The Times reports.
Among people with no religious affiliation, 70% said it was wrong of faith leaders to have sought to influence MPs on the issue.
Faith leaders challenging legislation in 2015 included the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. A Bill proposing a change to the law at the time was ultimately defeated.
Now another alliance of people of faith, Dignity in Dying, has been set up in support of changing the law.
Dignity in Dying was formerly Interfaith Leaders for Dignity in Dying. Its members include the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Canon Rosie Harper.
The group’s chairman Rabbi Jonathan Romain told The Times it was “misguided and inaccurate” to think that people of faith are “monolithically opposed to assisted dying”.
A spokesperson for CMF, which is a member of the Care Not Killing coalition against assisted suicide, said the members of Dignity in Dying “do not represent the actual teachings of the major faiths”.
“Finding people who happen to be religious and who simply repeat the usual arguments for EAS [euthanasia/assisted suicide] proves nothing,” they said.
“It does not address the complex issues of protecting terminally ill and disabled people from feeling pressure (real or perceived) into ending their lives early; nor the worrying data that shows legalising EAS leads to an increase in general suicide by normalising the active ending of life.
“Nor does it address the understanding common to all the Abrahamic religions, that deep-rooted human self-centredness will always corrupt any utopian vision of a brave new world.”