News From LifeNews.com had published an article taking some British papers to task for erroneously reporting (and using an attention grabbing headline to boot) a submission by a Bishop in the Church of England to a panel charged with looking at various medical ethics issues. Check it out:
Pro-Life Advocates Say Anglican Church Didn’t Back Newborn Euthanasia
by Steven Ertelt
November 13, 2006
London, England (LifeNews.com) — Pro-life advocates are saying that media coverage in England of the Anglican Church is erroneous and that claims saying it is backing a call for euthanasia of severely disabled newborns are off base. British media reports had the church supporting a call by the nation’s leading doctor’s group for allowing the euthanasia of infants. The media quoted Bishop of Southwark Tom Butler, who supposedly said there may be circumstances when the euthanasia of babies with significant physical or mental handicaps is morally acceptable.
However, Wesley J. Smith, an attorney and leading bioethics observed in the U.S., says that’s not what Butler is proposing.
“[I]t appears that the Church has ratified the right to withdraw life-sustaining treatment in some circumstances, which is a different matter altogether,” Smith explained.
“Withholding life-sustaining treatment is not the same thing at all as active killing,” Smith adds.
Dr. Peter Saunders of the Christian Medical Fellowship in England, agreed with Smith’s assessment.
“If it’s an underlying condition that’s causing the death and you’re withholding the treatment because you believe that that treatment’s burden far outweighs any benefit it can bring, then it might be quite appropriate,” he said.
Butler’s submission to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, which is looking into ethical issues brought about by advances in medicine, followed one from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecology, which said killing the infants is preferable to any extensive surgeries or other treatments.
The Catholic Church has opposed the British doctor’s group on the issue.
“While it is both moral and legal to withhold or withdraw aggressive medical treatment in such cases when it is futile or unduly burdensome, it can never be right to sanction action aimed at the deliberate killing of an innocent human being,” it said in a statement.
“The Times needs to do better,” Smith concluded about the London Times’ coverage of Butler’s paper on the subject.