British Prelate Assails "Assisted Dying" Bill

Sees It as a Step Toward Legalized Euthanasia

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LONDON, NOV. 9, 2005 ( A British archbishop reacted strongly against revised proposals that would allow doctor-assisted suicides.

Lord Joel Joffe’s bill has been modified since it was last considered by the House of Lords in October.

The bill now advocates «assisted dying,» whereby doctors can prescribe a lethal dose of medication for a patient to take himself, the BBC reported.

«No one should be under any illusion about what lies behind this latest proposed Bill by Lord Joffe,» said Archbishop Peter Smith, chairman of the Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

«It is the first step in a concerted campaign to legalize euthanasia,» the prelate said in a statement today. «A law which allows doctors to help patients kill themselves is only a short step away from a law allowing doctors to kill them.»

«There will be many of all faiths and none who recoil in disbelief at the idea of our society legislating to allow killing on the NHS [National Health Service] — whether the killing is self-administered or done by a doctor,» said Archbishop Smith. «There is no doubt the impact such a law would have on vulnerable sick and elderly people, at a time of increased financial pressure on health care resources.

«What we need is more and better palliative care. Terminally ill people need to be cared for properly, safe in the knowledge that their lives are of value, and that society does not wish them dead. They need to be cared for, not killed off.»

Other critics of the Joffe proposals include the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who has written that life is «a gift from God that we cannot treat as a possession of our own to keep or throw away.»

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