The more I’ve read about Bishop Wright recently, and the strong moral stands he has taken, the more I believe we should be thanking God for leaders like him and praying that he would life up even more in the Church and society at large. Having done my CPE training in an area of a veterans hospital that was transitioning to a focus on palliative care I can testify to it’s benefits for the patient and family.
Legalised killing is unacceptable. We must consider the radical alternative – palliative care
David Aaronovitch, using the pulpit of his column, challenged me to justify an â€œoutrageous claimâ€ that I made in my Easter sermon. I said that there was a â€œmilitantly atheist and secularist lobbyâ€ that believes that â€œwe have the right to kill… surplus old peopleâ€. He replied that it was simply not true.
But there is clearly a strong body of opinion – part of a larger, albeit unorganised, secularising or atheist agenda – pressing in this direction. Such an agenda doesn’t need protest marches. It has powerful politicians and journalists presenting the case.
Lord Joffe’s â€œassisted dyingâ€ Bill, rejected by the Lords last year, was, at one level, about â€œvoluntary euthanasiaâ€. The normal word for that is, of course, suicide. But his Bill was about those too ill to achieve that unaided – it was proposing not just â€œvoluntary dyingâ€ but â€œlawful killingâ€ by people enlisted by the patient. You can’t reduce this, as Mr Aaronovitch implied, to â€œpeople having a right to end their own livesâ€. The question is, do other people have the right to help them do so? Those who support this Bill reckoned they do.
He might want to come back at me on two other counts. First, I said â€œoldâ€ people. But clearly young people, too, suffer debilitating and incurable diseases. Reports from the Netherlands suggest that moves are being made to extend the euthanasia protocol to cover new-born children.