Civil Liberties

Dignity in Dying tell clergy to promote assisted suicide this Sunday


According to the rules of etiquette, it is best not to discuss politics or religion in polite company. You can probably add the subject of death to that, too. Of course, as regular communicants of His Grace’s blog will know, all three are at the top of this site’s agenda.

Right now, though, it is hard to escape two out of those three every time you pick up a paper or tune into the news. Even Facebook, which is generally populated by selfies and cute cats, has the image of poor Aylan Kurdi’s limp and lifeless body all over it. Drowning migrants and how we as a nation respond to the refugee crisis won’t be leaving the front pages for a while. And next week another death crisis rears its ugly and unwelcome head (once again).

On 11th September, MPs will be debating and voting on Labour MP Rob Marris’s Assisted Dying (suicide is far more accurate and honest) Bill. Over the last few years Lord Falconer, with the help of his friends at Dignity in Dying (formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society), have been doing their utmost to push it through the House of Lords. They have been thwarted each time by those peers who are (thankfully) not blind to its inherent dangers. But, like a zombie, the Bill has been raised from the dead once again and, thanks to Marris, is spreading its infection through the House of Commons.

Preparing for death and chronic physical deterioration are emotive subjects. We hate to see those we love suffer, and many of us fear what might lie ahead in our own lives. It is under this banner of compassion that ‘Dignity in Dying’ is attempting to cajole our parliamentarians into siding with their single-minded objective to allow us to control the time and place of our deaths. It is no secret that they and their friends’ approach is to bang the drum relentlessly and push hard to stir up enough support that eventually their opponents will be overwhelmed and capitulate. The fact that there is considerable concern across the board about the weaknesses of the proposed legislation is simply dismissed.

The assurance is that only adults of sound mind and with fewer than six months to live will be given the right to end their lives prematurely. This is supposedly sufficient to avoid abuse of the system. However no disability organisation agrees with them. Nor does the British Medical Association (BMA), which represents doctors in the UK. You only have to look to the Netherlands and Belgium where the boundaries continue to be relaxed to see that the ‘slippery slope’ argument is anything but hypothetical, though this, too, is routinely dismissed as hysterical scaremongering.

And please, whatever you do, don’t try to argue against assisted dying on religious grounds. Dignity in Dying has been scathing of religious opposition, treating it as irrational and irrelevant in a predominantly secular society. “Look!” they say, “We have Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, fighting our corner, as well as Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, and his chaplain, Canon Rosie Harper, and..”

And who? Well, that’s pretty much it. It doesn’t seem to matter that last year more than 20 senior faith leaders, including Justin Welby, all signed a letter opposing the previous version of the Bill. Trying to find a Christian who will publicly support their objectives is like finding a turkey who looks forward to Christmas. “No, no, you’re all wrong and our tiny band of Christian friends are absolutely right,” Dignity in Dying insists. “Can’t you see how wise Lord Carey is when he describes the proposed law as ‘a profoundly Christian and moral thing’?” He wrote a piece for the Mail on Sunday last month, in which he said: “I often find myself asking: ‘What would Jesus do?’ I think I know what he wouldn’t do. He wouldn’t say: ‘There, there. Pain is good for you. Take it like a man or a woman.'”

Let’s take a deep breath and think about this for a moment. If assisted dying is Christian and moral, we must believe that Jesus would encourage it. Can you really imagine a woman coming to him with a malignant cancerous growth, and Jesus looking at her with compassion but offering some poisonous berries? Or, if none was available, handing her a knife, telling her that there is nothing left in her life worth living for and that it would be better if she slit her wrists?

Jesus came to restore and to heal; not to destroy. He expects us to do the same. It is ironic that at a time when the notion of ‘assisted suicide’ is becoming increasingly acceptable, palliative care and analgesic medicines are more advanced than they have ever been. Yet, despite this, we are proposing that doctors, instead of advancing the best quality of life for their patients at all times, are to be handed a gun to load, and then hand it to their patient and let them pull the trigger.

The gun in this case contains a lethal chemical cocktail. It may be more clinical and less dramatic than a bullet, but the effect is manifestly the same. Some might think that it should be a matter of personal choice of when to end it all, but it is an impossible pursuit without coercing the medical profession into becoming agents of death; both complicit in the decision and active in the process. How exactly is this Christian?

Jesus had plenty to say about defending the weak and vulnerable. Legislation that requires patients to be of sound mind assumes that, as we consider death in our frail bodies, we will make entirely rational decisions. This is a time when all become weak and vulnerable, and our mental health is most likely not at its strongest. Putting pressure on people to make up their minds as to whether others would be better off if they were gone is neither moral nor loving.

But Dignity in Dying isn’t really bothered what Jesus thinks: they see religious arguments as little more than a pathetic and deceitful irritation. Just to make that point, their head of communications, Sam Dick, wrote on Twitter yesterday: “Sunday being the last before the #assisteddying Bill, steel yourselves for clergy telling you that ppl having choice will damage others.” He followed that up with another: “I do hope that on Sunday our faith leaders don’t bear false witness when discussing #assisteddying. Congregations deserve better.” These were both promptly retweeted by his Chief Executive, Sarah Wootton.

So, there we have it. Religious leaders are not only scaremongering, they are most likely lying, too. How about everyone else who disagrees with assisted suicide? Are they just as deluded or malicious? How about Douglas Murray writing in the Spectator last week? There’s one respected atheist who he has carefully set out the countless pitfalls and dangers that we face if we legalise this form of death. His analysis of what is happening in other euthanasia-advocating countries makes chilling reading. Abd then there’s Baroness Finlay, professor of palliative care at Cardiff University; co-chair of Living and Dying Well; past-President of the BMA, and a member of the BMA’s Medical Ethics Committee? Having spent 23 years as a doctor working in palliative care and treating many thousands of patients, she has come to the conclusion that assisted dying/suicide is simply wrong. She writes:

Some believe that doctors should do more than treat our illnesses and relieve our pain and distress – they should, it is being suggested, be licensed to put us down or help us to kill ourselves, if that is what we say we want. This new agenda comes in sheep’s clothing. Euphemisms, such as “assisted dying” or “end of life assistance” all disguise the reality of deliberately ending life months or years early. The propaganda is full of words like “dignity”, “compassion” and “choice”. And, in case we still harbour reservations, we are told not to worry as there would be “safeguards”.

The trouble is that, when you look beneath the surface, you see that it isn’t as simple as the propagandists would have us believe. This topic is a highly complex ethical, legal, clinical and social issue. The more each strand of the debate is examined, the more evident it becomes that the picture the euthanasia lobby paints is a distorted one.

This is the problem that Dignity in Dying has: no matter how hard they try, they simply cannot disguise the flaws in their objectives, or those in the Assisted Dying Bill. Accusing their opponents of lying (or hurling childish abuse) shows how weak their position is: it is a facile attempt to deflect attention from their inability to respond to the perfectly reasonable arguments put to them.

Assisted suicide turns each of our lives into a commodity to be consumed and controlled. In doing so, we undermine our own value and worth. Suffering and death will always be inseparable, but true compassion, as Jesus so profoundly demonstrated, is not revealed when we obliterate suffering, but rather when we stand alongside and bow down to weep with those who suffer.

There is still time to contact your MP regarding the Assisted Dying Bill. More information on how to do this can be found at No To Assisted Suicide.

  • Martin

    That they changed their name from the Voluntary Euthanasia Society to Dignity in Dying speaks of an attempt to hide what they do.

    And then, of course, we have the fact that abortion was surrounded by checks and balances to ensure that only in certain cases was it allowed. Curiously, when those legal checks and balances were circumvented the authorities refused to step in and prosecute those who had circumvented them.

    Without a doubt, any legal requirements will be circumvented and once more the law will not be applied. If you’re old and ill be very afraid!

    And then, for the Christian, such hastening of death is known also to be a hastening of that judgement we will all see after death. Death isn’t a merciful release for those outside the kingdom of God, it is an entry into greater, though deserved, suffering. What judgement must rest on those who do it.

    • Albert

      And then, for the Christian, such hastening of death is known also to be a hastening of that judgement we will all see after death.

      This is an excellent point that underscores the irrationality of the euthanasia position. Excluding divine revelation (which secularists obviously don’t think happens), we have literally no idea what, if anything, follows death. Therefore, there is no sense in hastening death.

      • Martin


        We certainly know that judgement follows death.

        • Albert

          Of course, Heb.9.27. But the secularist doesn’t know that – he has no idea what’s coming next. From his perspective, he therefore has no reason to suppose that what comes next is better.

        • sarky

          No you don’t.

          • DanJ0

            Indeed. Moreover, there’s no reason to think that anything comes after death other than oblivion. It the mind is instantiated by the brain then brain death means mind death. Whatever the actuality, it’s more reasonable than not to expect the same thing to happen to other animals too given that they appear to have consciousness too.

          • Martin


            Yes, I’m aware that you wish it were not so. Trouble is, you know.

          • sarky

            Back to that again are we.

          • Martin


            You raised it. You need to remember, you know God exists.

          • Martin

            We never left it.

  • Inspector General


    To all residents. The Dignity in Dying doctor will call first Wednesday in every month to interview you all. Please let a member of staff know if you want to see him any earlier.


  • Ayn Randall

    # Ass is Ted dying

    • chiefofsinners

      Mur der .

  • Orwell Ian

    The assisted suicide bandwagon is another Pro-Choice insanity that repudiates morality while laying claim to it.

    • chiefofsinners

      Morality – if you don’t get it from God then you get it from society, which today means you get it from Twitter, the collective consciousness. Anything beyond 150 characters is bey

      • DanJ0

        140 characters,

        • chiefofsinners

          Ah! Austerity begins to bite!

  • Inspector General

    “Tell the board I’ve reached agreement with the government minister concerned. Our state funding will be in place and guaranteed but is dependant on the number of people who take advantage of the scheme. This of course will need great thought in how we go about offering the product and the nature of supporting literature”

  • Inspector General

    “Gentlemen. We’ve had an approach from Foetus_U_Don’t_Like who suggest that families who take advantage of their services would be interested in what we offer. They suggest selling us their database”

  • Inspector General

    “Dr Z Smith from our home counties team has written in with an interesting point. He suggests that for socio economic groups D and E, our subtle sales patter is not getting through effectively. He recommends that for these groups, the old phrase ‘mercy killing’ be employed. Now, this phrase can never appear in print, and we need a rule of thumb to guide staff in when to use it. One suggests we at first confine the technique to heavily tattooed potential customer families.”

  • Shadrach Fire

    If the palace of Westminster tilted over into the Thames it might be considered a tragic loss of Architecture. If anyone rescued the buildings incumbents it would surely be considered a calamity.

  • David

    Deception takes many forms. In this century, and the final decades of the last one, all sorts of disordered causes were advanced by them being presented as moral, or kind or compassionate. Part of the problem is the dominance of emotion over reason in the media, which usually produces injustice. Until the majority regain the practice of thinking things through, further social “errors” will creep in, stealthily, disguised always of course, as “progressive”.
    Like abortion, assisted dying, if permitted, will soon lead to industrial scale evil. The old eugenics movement must be very pleased that such movements are rearing their ugly hydra-head again. Perhaps Nazism too will be on the rise ? Who knows, only God, who views each human life as precious, from its beginning to its end. But then what does popular western “culture” know or care of God or the rock solid morality He alone provides us with, for our own benefit.
    As Russia regains its Christian based morality, the west slides inexorably downwards towards death and disorder. Does the “killing” of individuals mirror the corresponding suicide of western culture ? I think so.

  • Inspector General

    “So that’s all agreed then. We don’t extend into advertising in women’s periodicals until we get endorsement from secular and humanist organisations and, vitally, permission to display their logos thereon.”

  • Inspector General

    “More good news chaps. The wallahs in the education ministry tell me there is absolutely no reason why assisted dying should not form part of the national curriculum”

    • Anton

      And some teachers could think of some pupils…

  • Inspector General

    “Mr Chairman, can I be the first to offer you congratulations on your mother’s 100th birthday. I hope her care home has celebrated the day suitably”

    “Care home? She lives with us, and has outside help come in. She’s my mother, for God’s sake”

  • carl jacobs

    they see religious arguments as little more than a pathetic and deceitful irritation.

    As with abortion, the concept of euthanasia is shot through with Materialist assumptions about the nature of man and the nature of his life. The Materialist, seeing life as an end in itself, cannot find purpose in suffering and pain and the loss of autonomy. Materialism leads to the natural conclusion that life is about pleasure and comfort and the exercise of autonomy. If life therefore cannot be pleasurable and comfortable and autonomous, it ceases to have value. Ending life becomes a rational choice. And who is there to gainsay this logic since there is no giver of law? Who dares bind the autonomy of man regarding his own life?

    If a teenager decides to kill herself over the emotional trauma of being 16, the Materialist would say “Intervene! She has so much yet to live.” By which he means “She has so much pleasure and comfort to experience, and so much autonomy to exercise.” But what does he say to the old or the disabled? “Yes, it’s a rational choice given the circumstance. It’s reasonable for you to kill yourself. I wouldn’t want to live like that.” From there it’s a small step to conclude “You shouldn’t want to live like that.” Which is just a brief rest stop before arrival at “You shouldn’t be allowed to live like that.”

    The Scripture declares “You were bought with a price” – a blood price that establishes the objective value of a man’s life. The Materialist can find no value in his life beyond use value. So when it becomes old and worn-out, or broken, he sees no difficulty in just throwing it away.

    • chiefofsinners

      What a waste of protein all that human flesh is. Perhaps they should change their name again to Barbecue the Aged.

      • Anton

        A Modest Proposal…

        • carl jacobs

          … in a Green Eco-friendly sort of way. There are too many people and there isn’t enough food. We might have a solution here. Plus it would provide eco-responsible jobs for people. We have a win-win-win.

          Someone should call Sea Shepherds and get them involved.

          • chiefofsinners

            Good point. The Cranmer think tank is truly awesome when it gets rolling.

          • Need to address the recycling potential too. Can’t have too many cremations as it’ll cause global warming; and space at land fill sites cemeteries is becoming scarcer by the day.

          • chiefofsinners

            Which reminds me… I’d been meaning to invite you round for bonfire night. We could use a Guy like you.

          • Live in Lewes, do we?

          • chiefofsinners

            The police had to stop them burning an effigy of Alex Salmond last year, so it’s not all bad.

          • On what grounds did they do that?

          • chiefofsinners

            Read all about it.
            An excellent likeness, I’m sure you’ll agree. In particular check out the rear view.

          • Jack had a good chuckle over this. They didn’t burn him as they had no wish to offend. Best just stick with effigies of the Popes then.

          • chiefofsinners

            At least equalities legislation means that you can now marry prince Charles and become queen. Progressive politics is creating a fairer, more just society. Dave told me.

          • Ah, yes, equality legislation is a wonderful thing. Now, what about burning an effigy of Mohammed? Ask Dave next time you get a chance.

        • chiefofsinners

          Yes indeed. Glad you’re up on your classics, Anton.

    • Dennis Lessenis

      Scripture declares “And these signs shall follow them that believe… they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” Mark 16: 17-18

      So we shouldn’t even need a debate on assisted dying if we left our health to ‘god’ or the ministrations of Christians who – if they are true believers – should be able to heal the sick. However, I don’t see the end of the NHS anytime soon, though do you? – despite these words of Scripture!

      It is has taken almost 2000 years of Christianity and many thousands of years of human history before reliable medicine emerged – and then, as I note in my comments above, the more conservatively religious a society, the more likely that access to good health care is dependent upon what you can pay. Those wishy-washy liberal societies, with their reliance on materialism oddly enough have good health care, free at the point of delivery – and of course much, much better health care than was found in Britain, when the churches were fuller and the Bible well known.

      If I were you, instead of self-congratulation for something Christianity DIDN’T provide or INVENT (i.e. a means of overcoming suffering via medicine – and a political system that provides medicine and social care for its citizens) – I’d run off and do some social history – you’ll note when Christianity ruled in the UK the lot of the poor, sick, marginalised etc. was far worse off than it is today. It might inform you a little better than whatever undergrad basic philosophy text you’ve decided to wow us with now!

      I say ‘He who lives by the sword will die by the sword (cf. Matt 26:52)’ – similarly he who quotes low personal cost scriptures should have to live by the high cost scriptures too. Let’s deny NHS health care to our Christian friends, who quote scripture here and there to show their epistemological authority. When the cancer wards empty because our Christian friends have demonstrated the truthfulness of their scriptures by healing the sick – then perhaps we’ll listen to the cherry picked verses of scripture quoting to put those wicked materialists in their place. Scripture tells us: Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” John 14:12. I wouldn’t hold your breath…

  • Martin


    You appear to be on great form this week end.

  • grandpa1940

    As I wrote upon my own site:-

    The latest push is from a Private Member’s Bill which has had its First Reading in the Commons, and it is labelled Assisted Dying (No. 2) Bill 2015-16; but do not be deceived by the snuggly title; because behind the words is a vicious determination to allow people to be ‘helped’ to kill themseves. Just consider those few words in my previous sentence. There are those who would put themselves up to be arbiters of life, or death; but not for themselves; oh no: they are all for taking or allowing others to do their dirty work for them, in their belief that they KNOW BEST, and they claim that they should be allowed to move their plans onward, until we see the same ghoulish glory as I wrote of some time back, when the ‘Public Ambulance Service Ltd’ (Gemeinnützige Krankentransport GmbH) officers and doctors were told that they had to kill the feeble-minded because Befehl ist Befehl (Orders are Orders).
    It is not, as some may write, a slippery slope, but a straight-forward leap towards a ‘Eugenics-based Society’ where the strong survive, and the weak go to the wall, or to the ‘clinic’. It is but a matter of semantics to step from a Law which allows a person who is mentally competent to be ‘helped’ to commit suicide; to the darkest hours of civilisation as we know it, in that terrible phrase; The Final Solution.

    • In Perfect Ignorance

      It’s this kind of hysterical scare-mongering that discredits all arguments against assisted dying, or euthanasia, or whatever you want to call it.

      Reasonable voices have been raised against this bill, but their arguments can no longer be heard amid the cacophony and din of the usual raft of daft extremists and right-wing Christians for whom any kind of social innovation is Armageddon come early.

      All you do with your dire warnings of impending doom and imagined disaster is drive the man in the street into the arms of those who oppose you. It happened with abortion. It happened with gay marriage. Now it will happen with euthanasia, which I predict will be the law of the land within 5 years, although the sheer inertia of a parliament full of old men may mean it doesn’t pass this time.

      If only the crazies would shirt the firk up and let the reasonable voices be heard, the anti-euthanasia lobby might have a chance to persuade the public that assisted dying IS a dangerous step for any society to take. But no, they have to shriek and gibber and render themselves and their opinions ridiculous. Perhaps there is a God, and a Devil, and the ultimate irony you’ll have to face when you die is that for all your attempts to proclaim the first, you’ve actually been working on behalf of the second.

  • CliveM

    It’s all about controlling the perameters of the debate. The purpose of this comment is to attempt to discredit the counter argument without having to engage with it.

    I think it says something about how strong an argument they actually believe they have.

  • IanCad

    It’s been quite the week for iconic photos. Let’s add another few to address – or confuse – this post.

    • chiefofsinners

      If only we had an up to date photo of Tony – i.e. from beyond the grave – so that we could make an accurate comparison.
      Some pictures of Terry Pratchett also popped up when I followed your link. A few months before he died I saw him stuck in the disabled exit at a shopping centre, in his electric wheelchair and unable to reach the button to reopen the door. Everyone was ignoring him. Out of compassion for him, did I:
      a) leave him there until he died of thirst?
      b) open the door and wave him off with a cheery ‘God bless you’ ?

  • Should I worry that I have no idea who Sam Dick is?

    I am old enough to remember being assured that abortion was being legalised with many safeguards and only so that 14 year old pregnant by rape and worn out mothers of 10 whose husbands wouldn’t use contraception could receive compassionate assistance.

    Safeguards and special cases one’s rotund hirsute posterior. The argument that the right to die will become a duty to die must be made.

    Nevertheless, I wonder if it is worth Christians fighting these culture wars beyond preaching. After all, if God has finally given us over and sent for the angel that terminates civilisations when their time is up, do we want to resist His will?

    May be best to concentrate on personal holiness, building the Church and evangelism. Just saying.

    • sarky

      Duty to die? Not quite asking for ‘logans run’ are they?

      • James60498 .

        Of course they are not asking for it.

        But then they weren’t asking for 180,000 abortions a year either.

        Brave New World, here we come.

      • You missed, or chose to ignore, my point that the reality of legalised abortion quickly, and irreversibly, far exceeded what had been argued for. It is now a routine method of birth control, and this emphatically is NOT what was promised.

        Once physician assisted killing is legalised, it will become normalised. Once it is normalised, the way we think about the frail elderly will be radically changed. Self termination will become an option to be discussed in all cases. Then it will move from assisted suicide to physician killing, then the rules will slip, then the old and the sick will fear the doctor, etc.

        I have written about a future society in which ‘self deliverance’ is normalised in my Kindle novel ‘Darwin’s Adders:A Chronicle of Pagan Englad 2089’ which speculated about life in a post- oil decimated future England in which Christianity is suppressed and people live under a blend of restored paganism and social Darwinism. Only 79 p.

  • Well if they succeed in bringing about euthanasia then at least no one can then argue against bringing back the death penalty. If a society can kill its innocents then it should have no trouble in killing the guilty.

    • sarky

      Two massively different issues. Also, there have been many cases of ‘innocents’ killed by the death penalty.

      • And many more innocents killed by safely convicted murderers sentenced to ‘life’, and let out on parole after 12 years to kill again.

        • sarky

          So you are happy for someone to be killed against their will, but you are against a terminally Ill person making a rational decision to end their own life?
          Surely you can see the hypocrisy?

          • What bollocks you talk.

          • sarky

            The comment by ‘Dennis Lessenis’ at the top of this thread says it better than I ever could.

          • Dennis Lessenis

            Thanks for your kind words…

            Many of our reactionary Christian/religious friends like to see the society we have today – which is far, far more equal, fair and just than ANY Christian society that has ever existed – and claim the fruits of class struggle, Enlightenment values and the state welfare are the fruits of Christianity. In truth they are NOT – social movements usually have many roots – if Christian societies result in a fair, equal and caring society – why did we need the welfare state in the first place and why have we had to wait until almost 2000 years of Christianity before we see the emergence of such societies? Do some social history – when the churches were full, life was cheap, the poor and working classes were treated shamefully, women were second class citizens and children treated in ways that would have made that vocal Catholic, Jimmy Saville blush! Our religious friends like to bask in the reflected glory of others and tell us we have Christians to thank for social reform. Yet they fail to ask why the reforms of the late Georgian/early Victorian era were necessary in a society that was already Christian (and far, far more Christian than it is today – and had been Christian for 1,000 years and Protestant for 200 years at the time of the Great Reforms of the 1830s). Christianity itself had been around for 1,800 years at the time. Moreover we don’t see any Christian reform movements (except Quakers and Non-Trinitarian Unitarians) before the French Revolution (1789) – an event which taught the upper and middle-classes, that you ignore the poor at your peril. Clearly caring Christianity is mainly a product of a synthesis of Christianity and Enlightenment thinking – not vice versa.

            The rather self-flattering ideas our Christian friends have about themselves and their values and role in society is really nothing more than self-flattery. There is little evidence to suggest that Christians and Christianity per se make for wholesome societies – it is just that they like to tell themselves that they do. A look at history or around the world today tells us that the more religious/Christian a country, the more corrupt, socially unequal that society – and in regards to Christianity, Christian nations such as the USA or Ireland, lead the Western world when it comes to social indicators such as single-parent families – and of course it is the USA that has a murder rate six times that of many liberal, secular democracies – in addition to the highest rates of divorce, teen pregnancy, STDs (all much higher in the Bible Belt where liberalism is an anathema). Oddly enough it is the Bible Belt in the USA and Poland in Europe that have the highest rates of downloading pornography (see:

            As noted in my previous comment, the three big commandments of our Christian friends like to uphold the most are:

            11th Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Get Found Out

            12th Commandment: Thou Shalt Always Justify Thine Own Compromises with Scripture, When it is in Thine Own Interest To Do So…

            13th Commandment: Thou Shalt Always Think The Worst of other people.

            ‘Thou Shalt Always Think The Worst of other people’ (and how many of our Christian friends amply fulfil this commandment, when commenting on this blog!) is really just a subtle means of thinking better of oneself. At the end of the day much that passes for religion is really just an exercise in subtle but pious narcissism.

            For almost ten years I worked in end of life care – in a national cancer centre and in two hospices. Unlike the omniscient Gillan Scott I’ve actually worked in end of life care. To be frank, I am not really in favour of an assisted dying bill – I think the other question, I noted above, ‘Is it right to extend life?’ – if approached sensibly, would prevent the need for an assisted dying bill – although people with ‘locked in syndrome’ and conditions such as motor neurone fall outside this question – and therefore there does need to be some debate. I will add that many who fear being ‘killed off’ by doctors etc. at the start of their cancer or MND journey, have, sometime down the line, asked me to kill them – obviously I/we haven’t (despite the fruitful imaginations of some of our religious friends, always thinking ill of others, those of us in end of life care like to preserve life if possible!). Yet, there needs to be some legislation to protect those who help someone end their life when pain and lack of quality rob it of meaning.

            Here our Christian friends chime in with some platitudes about making the end of someone’s life meaningful – how easy our religious friends place burdens on others they may not be able to carry themselves. Moreover, if Britain were to adopt the social care policies voiced by many Conservative advocates writing here and on similar blogs and wider media – who will pay for this care? Indeed, where will it come from?

            Our reactionary religious friends are VERY GOOD at saying WHAT IS WRONG with modernity or government or liberalism or whatever else isn’t Christian (and privately they say a good deal wrong about what is wrong with other people’s Christianity too!) – which again, is just a backhanded means of self-praise. In fact they regularly perform that modern day Christian miracle of turning almost anything into whine… But you’d be hard pressed to find a constructive comment that actually offers a solution to this or that social problem or ill. Preaching ‘Thou Shalt Not’ doesn’t work – as more religious societies attest. For example, we hear rants on about sex-education in schools – this is something that in the sexually fruitful minds of Christians means children lose their innocence and become interested in sex – when in reality we find it is within religious societies that we tend to see the highest rates of teen pregnancy and STDs among teens. It is self-evident that reason and pragmatism are the best means of preventing teen pregnancy – i.e. sex education, but our Christian friends want to hold society hostage to their own hang-ups, preoccupations about sex and thinking ill of people – with so much baggage to carry their isn’t room for having a reasoned debate on sex education with our Christian friends.

            It’s the same with end of life care – who is going to provided ‘loving care’? Faith-based organisations? Given Livability and other faith-based organisations are almost wholly reliant on the taxpayer to foot the bill and employ anyone who’ll do the job – Christians like to sit on the board of trustees and in senior management, they ain’t so keen on wiping arses for minimum wage – the ‘faith-based’ model doesn’t have much to recommend itself to the politics of this blog – and organisations like Livability charge the top end of the market for their services (Livability receives 88% of its income from ‘Charitable Activites’ – a euphemism for charging the taxpayer for its services – it only receives 11% from donation – see: – Leeds Catholic Care receives a whopping 94% of its income from the taxpayer and only 3.8% from donation – – let’s face it, without government heavily subsidising faith-based organisations, many wouldn’t exist!!). Thankfully the state and many secular and faith-based organisations DO provide excellent care – certainly far more excellent than the workhouses and asylums of our more Christian Victorian ancestors. However, no matter what the care – is it our right to force on other people burdens we probably couldn’t carry ourselves?

            I will close by sharing an observation I have made in my many years working in cancer and end of life care – and that is the more conservatively religious a patient (regardless of religion), the more they are likely to seek life extending treatment. I found this odd at first – you’d think our religious brethren would be just longing to shed this mortal coil and run off into the arms of their loving god. But no – in cancer care it was your devout believer who would more be more likely to ask for aggressive chemo or radiotherapy – whereas your nominal or non-believer would be more accepting of death. Personally I think this is because our religious friends are both more scared of death (which is in part why they are religious) but also because narcissism increases with religious belief – and the narcissist can’t believe they would succumb to something as mundane as death! Independent academic research echoes my own observation – religious people are less likely to accept the inevitability of death and are more likely to seek aggressive treatment, even if that treatment compromises quality of life (see: – there are other independent studies which come to the same conclusion). Therefore are religious people really the right people to ask about assisted dying? As with many other moral issues – they seem rather lacking when it comes to putting their money where their mouths are… Given they can’t provide a reasoned debate on when it is immoral to extend life (see my previous comment) why should they even think they have a right to comment on euthanasia?

          • sarky

            I agree with absolutely everything you have said, fortunately the ‘christian voice’ is nothing more than a whisper and reason and logic are thankfully winning through.

          • sarky

            P.s. We need you to comment more on here, that kind of well researched reasoned logic is the perfect counterweight to some of the hysterical and extremist views often aired.

          • CliveM

            Infatuation is dangerous, remember you are already married.

      • No, same underpinning ethics. There will also be innocents accidentally killed by euthanasia. Mistakes happen, so if you can tolerate one, you can the other.

  • Interesting phrase ‘ ..people having choice will harm others.’

    Wonder how Mr Dick would apply that to gun ownership rights?

  • Ian

    Seems Mr Dick is aptly named

  • Mike Stallard

    Already the government is coming between me and my doctor.
    It is a private relationship based on trust.
    If I thought my doctor was out to kill me, I would not be a happy bunny.
    By shouting down the opposition these people ought to be ashamed of themselves.

    • magnolia

      A good point as if you read the stories of pet owners, many are frightened of taking their pets to the vet when they are old and ill for fear that they will be pressured into euthanasia. You would get a similar effect amongst the elderly and their carers. The proof is already there.

    • sarky

      Have you actually read the proposed legislation?

      • steroflex

        Don’t be daft! Of course I haven’t. We pay politicians a lot of money to do that for us!

        • sarky

          So how can you comment on it?
          Or are you just jumping on the back of all the other hysterical ramblings?

          • Mike Stallard

            sarky, I am a Catholic. I trust my Church rather more than I do Lord Forkner. (Even though he seems to have slimmed down a bit now.)
            I leave stuff like this to the politicians whom I elect and then put up with the results.
            Ever thought about abortion? Or divorce? Or the scandal of the Social Services allied with the Family Courts?
            This is going to be just one more thing if it happens.

  • Dreadnaught

    Euthanasia is not murder any more than Suicide is self-Murder. I am usually in agreement with Douglas Murray but on this occasion I disagree intently with his argument.
    Badly written law does not necessarily mean it was a bad Law. Racial discrimination enshrined in law as the Nazis did or as Nigeria has done regarding homosexuality, puts badness into bad-law making.
    Condemning someone with downward spiraling dementia or locked-in syndrome like Diane Petty and Tony Nicklin is punishing them by denying them release from their torment.
    We of a certain age should all have living-wills by Law. A clear indication of how we wish to end our lives in certain circumstances with the same freedom we had in building them.
    Not talking about death is a condition of the modernity of our times; far better understood in other ages before the more sanctimonious religious zealots made it their bouncing ball.
    Accepting the issue as fact for the purpose of argument, Jesus’s agonising death could have been avoided and possibly mankind better served, if he had stuck around a lot longer than his 33 years. How much more could have been explained, understood and achieved if the hadn’t exercised his will, and chosen to die when his body or mind was failing him as a person of independent thought and ability.
    Leave aside arguments of legions of religious zealots, if you were an anti-right-die around at the same time would you have denied Jesus his chosen career a path, like you would deny me and others now.
    My Life is special to me. My Death is also special to me and for me alone to manage. We should not have to leave our bodies for other to clean up.

  • Dennis Lessenis

    Although it is usually noted that there are 10 Commandments – in reality I would argue there are 13 biggies our religious friends like to uphold the most (yes I know there are actually 613 Commandments in the Torah – but let’s just stick to the ones our Christian friends concern themselves with…).

    The last three of the 13 Commandments are:

    11th Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Get Found Out

    12th Commandment: Thou Shalt Always Justify Thine Own Compromises with Scripture, When it is in Thine Own Interest To Do So…

    13th Commandment: Thou Shalt Always Think The Worst of OTHER PEOPLE.

    When it comes to the Assisted Dying Bill our Christian friends employ the 13th Commandment – believing assisted dying will be used negatively. They seem to forget that much of the ‘caring’ in our society springs not from Christianity, but from Enlightenment ideas. Human life was cheap, when the Bible was well known and the churches were fuller (as history attests again and again) – here, someone one will comment that we have Christians to thank for the abolition of slavery or another social movement – but no one asks why a Christian society such as Britain condoned using slaves in the first place – or why the most Christian states of the USA fought to keep slavery and treated black people as second class citizens until Civil Rights (an onwards until today). Yes, there were Christians who fought against this – but this demonstrates that Christianity does NOT result in ONE outcome or ONE POINT OF VIEW on social issues. Or that just because something it labelled as ‘Christian’ that it works for, or results in, a social good – some do, some don’t – Christian belief and practice makes no guarantee of either outcome! It is only the self-flattering and conceited mechanism of religion that makes Christians believe they have some special veto on morality – the fact conservatively religious societies tend to score far worse against social indicators such as social inequality, violent crime, murder rates, teen pregnancy, ill health, access to health care, etc. rather belies the lofty ideas they have of their own abilities and influence!

    Our Christian friends often like to condemn others – in truth because it is a backhanded means of patting themselves on the back: they condemn others to make themselves feel better about themselves. Hence the Christian fondness for cheap righteousness on the part of our religious friends. By cheap righteousness, I mean homosexuality, abortion, euthanasia, etc. – all issues that don’t compromise and challenge the daily life of your typical Christian and so are topics that appear to a have high moral stance, but low personal cost – so much better than anything that might make life uncomfortable for our Christian chums.

    Whatever the rights and wrongs of the Assisted Dying Bill – I would just LOVE to hear some Christian thinking on the right of doctors to EXTEND LIFE – particularly when that life is without quality or cognition? I’ve yet to hear a Christian tackle this one – they are very good on saying doctors have no right to play ‘god’ by ending life – but we rarely, if ever, hear any constructive comment on the right of extending life. Let’s face it, without medicine, if left to a loving ‘god’ our lives would be shorter, more painful and troubled by disabilities. But our religious friends never comment on this awkward fact.

    I suppose one argument given is that medicine is a gift from God… But if this is so, why did ‘God’ take so long in giving it to humanity? Humanity has been around for millennia – yet we’ve only had reliable medicine for the past 100 or so years. And why is it only available universally in Western societies – and then, as with other social provision, it tends to be the secular liberal democracies where we see medical help being given free, for everyone. The more religious a society, the more likely you’ll have to pay for your health care: in the USA – despite its overt social and political Christian voice and practice – if you are poor, you don’t have access to good health care? Outside of the Western world, health care is only available to those who can afford it.

    Ironically, we have Western medicine to thank for contemporary ideas of the family. Many Christians, tend to portray the nuclear family as ‘God’s Will’ and ‘God’s Creation’ – thinking they have some monopoly on defining what makes up the family unit. In truth, the Christian ideal family has only been made a common possibility by modern medicine. Pre-1948, in the UK – more so in the 19th century and before – family breakdown was common, not because of wishy-washy liberal values – but because a loving God had a habit of cutting one or both parents’ lives short before their children reached adulthood. Look back through your family tree or watch a TV programme like ‘Who Do You Think You Are..?’ and notice just how many marriages ended early – leaving a parent to struggle to raise children because a loving God happily caused women to die in child birth or kill one or both parents off with disease, injury or war.

    So I think the argument ‘Medicine is a Gift From God’ is a bit of a copout really, on the part of our religious friends – it provides neat answers to awkward questions about the motives and function of a ‘loving god’ failing to heal – or Christians failing to heal (cf. Mark 16:18 – odd how many Christians are very keen on Lev 18:22, but wouldn’t put the same faith or gusto into Mark 16:18 – see what I mean about cheap righteousness ?). But it doesn’t really stand up to the weakest of intellectual scrutinty.

    Whatever, I would suggest ABC Welby or Gillan Scott for that matter, get themselves jobs in a hospice or nursing home as support workers/health care assistants and just wipe adults’ backsides for six months or so. Let them see how people end their lives – let them see how modern medicine and the wonderful care in many of nursing homes, hospitals and hospices forces people to live on, beyond their natural span. One of the problems when you’re an archbishop (or a blogging busybody) is that you tend to look from the outside in. If the ABC goes to visit a nursing home then it is all sanitised for him – the residents least likely to cause problems – and most likely to make a good photo opportunity are wheeled out for the ABC’s inspection (I know, since I once managed a residential home where Lord Cary was introduced to residents carefully chosen by the faith-based charity’s PR department!!). Wiping arses is a much better way to get to know what really goes on in nursing homes and hospices.

    Come on Justin and Gillan – roll up your sleeves – for once, talk from experience instead of from the lofty, self-appointed perch of ‘Christians know best…’ – confusing wishful thinking with cold, hard facts – alas Christians don’t know best and never did, it is just the like to think they do – and that is the great danger of religion.