Any changes to the law to allow assisted suicide would spell ‘disaster’ and create a shift in society’s attitude to the sanctity of life, the Archbishop of Canterbury has claimed.
Speaking alongside Christian Concern chief executive Andrea Williams at the Church of England’s four-day General Synod in February, Dr Rowan Williams drew attention to a report in January by the Independent Commission on Assisted Dying (ICAD), headed by former Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer.
In this report, the non-governmental body called for a change in the law to allow doctors to be given the right to help some terminally ill people to die.
However, Dr Williams said, ‘Law exists so that people may be protected, especially the vulnerable. Law exists to guarantee equality of protection to all. When the law seeks to move outside that sphere, it exceeds its proper function.
‘We are committed, as Christians, to the belief that every life, in every imaginable situation, is infinitely precious in the sight of God. To say there are certain conditions in which life is legally declared to be not worth living is a major shift in the moral and spiritual atmosphere in which we live’.
Following the debate and amendment, the Synod carried a motion to express its concern that the ICAD was insufficiently independent to develop proposals that will protect the interests of vulnerable and disabled people properly.
It also affirmed the intrinsic value of every human life and expressed its support for the current law on assisted suicide as a means of contributing to a just and compassionate society in which vulnerable people are protected.