A group of experts who specialise in end of life care warn that vulnerable people will be put at risk if MPs back the Assisted Dying Bill, reports Premier News this morning.In a damning assessment of the new assisted suicide Bill being put to Parliament tomorrow, the Association for Palliative Medicine and the National Council for Palliative Care warn that the “the legislative safeguards proposed in the Bill are unsafe”. They say the Bill doesn’t stress clearly enough the need to give information or experience of palliative care to would be ‘assisted suicides’.
And they challenge the argument sometimes used by those in favour of assisted dying that the death of terminally ill patients are already being hastened by an increase in the dose of drugs. It is a myth, they say: it is untrue and needs rebuttal. It is not common and acceptable practice to hasten a person’s death by increasing dosages of pain relief using drugs like morphine. “The role of palliative care is to maximise quality of life and support people until they die. It is not to shorten life prematurely.’
In his book, ‘Right to Die’ physician Professor John Wyatt points out that the drugs used to deliberately end life are not the same as those used in palliative care to relieve pain. (His book is a roadmap beginning with the history of the voluntary euthanasia movement and the tactics used to ephuemise its aims today, including a careful laying out of the evidence. It will be out in November, and should be required reading for all physicians.)
Medical professional bodies are firmly against the assisted suicide Bill. It clashes with the centuries old Hypocratic oath of ‘do no harm’ and introduces a culture of killing into medicine. They urge support for people who feel their lives are not worth living; practical, emotional and spiritual support.
Our concern at Pilgrims’ Friend Society is that it will put unbearable pressure on frailer older people to end their lives. Many already fear that they are a burden and are of ‘no use to anybody now.’ We remind them that God has a purpose for every life, to the very last minute. In those frailer, latter years it may be a ministry of dependence that allows others to care for them, as ‘unto the Lord’. For Matthew 25:40 makes it clear that whatever we do to the ‘least’ of His brethren, He takes very personally. It is our delight and privilege to care for those God has brought under our wing. You can see how we do it on YouTube – key in Pilgrim Homes, or go straight to this one – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1_K2D6oC08
Where would we be if we had no roads to goodness? No opportunities to show lovingkindness to the frail and vulnerable? We would be diminished as human beings. Even secular commentators are aware of it. Reviewing a TV programme, a critic wrote about the main characters that, ‘They are not the first to discover that caring for others’ lives is a way of fixing and strengthening your own.’ (Daily Express, Monday August 24, 2015). This is not to say that palliative care or caring is the means to fixing your own lives – we do it because it is the right thing to do. And because, as Christians, we are impelled by the deeply ingrained ethos of the Holy Spirit. We want to assist people to live right to the end of their lives here. And when the Lord calls them Home, to be ‘midwives to life’ as one manager put it, not peremptory executioners.
We are praying that the Bill will not pass in Parliament tomorrow. DO PRAY WITH US.