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Assisted Suicide

October 2015

Christian and charity campaign groups have given thanks for the resounding defeat of Rob Marris’ assisted suicide bill.

      The Bill, which was hotly debated through Parliament and looked dangerously close to becoming an Act, has been quashed by a vote of 330 against, with just 118 in favour. 

      It was the first time in nearly 20 years that a vote on whether to allow assisted suicide had reached the House of Commons, and nearly 450 MPs turned out to vote.

      In May this year, there was a closer call in Scotland, with 82 MSPs voting against the Assisted Suicide Scotland Bill, with 36 in favour.

      According to a statement from Christian Concern, which together with other campaigners had arranged prayer vigils during the final debate and vote in the House of Commons on Friday 11 September, this defeat may make it harder for pro-euthanasia campaigners to push for further legislature soon.

      In a statement, Christian Concern said, ‘All of us are made in God’s image and precious in his sight. Life is for him to give and take, not for us. Assisted suicide is not the compassionate provision that campaigners for it often suggest it is.

      ‘It would put us on a dangerous path and immediately place those who are already vulnerable at greater risk. People need care, not killing. As Christians, we need to speak up clearly to protect the gift of life’.

Vulnerable

      During the debate, the Christian Institute reported Labour MP Lyn Brown saying she would vote against the Bill, because it would ‘fundamentally change the way our society thinks’ about the vulnerable.

      The Christian Institute had warned that legalising assisted suicide would pressurise the sick, elderly and vulnerable into ending their lives for fear of being a burden.

      Paul Tully, spokesman for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said, ‘This was an important victory for true compassion. It is a vote of affirmation for all those healthcare staff looking after terminally ill people.

      ‘It will be a great relief to those with disabilities, chronic conditions and degenerative illnesses. The threat to them has been averted for now’.

      Many campaigners against the Bill had warned of the incremental extension of the practice in Europe, and the absence of genuine safeguards.

      Nola Leach, chief executive of pro-life charity CARE, said, ‘The legalisation of assisted suicide would have been a fundamental departure from our nation’s compassionate heritage and a dangerous mistake to make.

      ‘Far from being broken, the current law protects both doctors and patients and assisted suicide would only undermine that protection and parliament today has overwhelmingly rejected the arguments calling for a radical change to that law’.

      She called the vote a ‘positive’ for many vulnerable people who had been understandably concerned by the Bill, adding: ‘It would have enabled servants of the state such as doctors to prescribe lethal medication, contradicting the vital “do not harm” principle which underpins the medical profession’.

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