Lives Worth Living
To counter the torrent of assisted suicide propaganda which is driving demand for changes to the law in Britain, SPUC has launched its Lives Worth Living campaign.
Lives Worth Living is helping to give some balance to a very one-sided debate by spelling out why assisted suicide must be opposed.
The campaign warns the public, politicians and mainstream media about the dire consequences which lie in store for the sick, disabled and dying should the pro-euthanasia lobby get its way.
Support the campaign
You can support SPUC’s Lives Worth Living campaign, and its other work, in the following ways:
- Give generously to a White Flower Appeal near you, or make a donation now (you can also use the control on this page to donate)
- Sign SPUC’s declaration of support for vulnerable people which is addressed to Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health
The Assisted Dying Bill (“Marris Bill”) was defeated in September 2015 thanks to a concerted pro-life campaign and thousands of people who contacted their MPs. But anti-life forces continue to undermine the lives of vulnerable people. Last year in Germany, France, Canada and other places, euthanasia campaigners made advances.
And despite the Bill’s defeat, the clamour for euthanasia legislation is gathering pace with TV soap operas and news bulletins routinely pushing the case for assisted suicide. Today it seems you cannot turn on a TV or open a newspaper without someone pressing the case for legalising assisted suicide. Calls for assisted suicide send out a message that some lives are unworthy of living, and make people who are suffering feel a burden on others, especially friends and relatives.
1961 Suicide Act
Under the 1961 Suicide Act, committing suicide ceased to be a crime in the UK, but assisting or encouraging a person to commit suicide is a serious offence.
By forbidding assistance in suicide, the current law protects the right to life. Society expresses solidarity with people who may feel suicidal affirming that their lives are valued.
The 1961 Act did not create a ‘right’ to commit suicide, and there is no right to die in any of the major human rights documents such as the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. These and many other such internationally agreed documents recognise and protect the right to life, but give no status to any so-called right to die.
Suicide is a tragedy, not a political football
In recent years, “right to die” campaigners have exploited the media to use the suicides of a small number of disabled people as an argument that the law should recognise a right to die by suicide and euthanasia.
Proponents of euthanasia are seeking to use assisted suicide as a route to legalise the killing of sick people and people with disabilities. Efforts have been made to introduce a law that permits doctors to authorise and provide assisted suicide. This is modelled on the way the Abortion Act enlists doctors to both authorise and perform abortions.
There are many strong reasons for opposing assisted suicide, among them:
Doctors are against assisted suicide
Many GPs in the UK have said that they do not want assisted suicide to be legal. In 2013, the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) consulted its members on assisted dying. 77 percent said the RCGP should oppose a change in the law to allow assisted dying. GPs who responded to the consultation gave a number of reasons for their opposition to assisted dying.
They said a change in the law would:
- make patients afraid of their doctors
- make vulnerable patients most at risk of dying
- mean less focus on investment in palliative care
Vulnerable people will be at risk of being killed
Proposals for assisted suicide legislation work on the principle that some people should be given help to die. This is saying that some lives are worth less than others. The current law of the land protects every life equally (after birth). Assisted suicide means a two-tier system where some people can be killed or helped to die. This is wrong.
Assisted suicide is not a genuine ‘choice’ when:
- Vulnerable people feel pressurised to choose death.
Saying to elderly, vulnerable people: “Would you like us to help you die now?” immediately makes them feel that their life has no worth.
- “Vulnerable people are killed without their explicit consent.”
In Belgium, where euthanasia is legal, in 2013 the deaths of 1.7 people in every 100 people were hastened without the explicit request of the patient. The author of a 2015 report on euthanasia in Belgium, Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor of Hull University, said: “The decision as to which life is no longer ‘worth living’ is not in the hands of the patient but in the hands of the doctor.”
Assisted suicide is not the answer to pain
Good palliative care should ensure that pain is controlled well, and pain can be well controlled in the vast majority of cases. Legalising assisted suicide risks less investment in palliative care.
Additionally, lack of pain control is not usually the deciding factor for those who choose assisted suicide. In Oregon, USA, where assisted suicide is legal, 93 per cent said that ‘loss of autonomy’ was a reason they wanted to die prematurely.
Assisted suicide kills those who are not dying
Recent assisted suicide proposals have stipulated that assisted suicide should only be offered to people with terminal illnesses, and who are not expected to live longer than 6 months. However, this type of ‘safeguard’ is often ignored:
- In Oregon, where the Death with Dignity Act 1997 has this type of clause in it, one-in-six people killing themselves under the act did not have a terminal illness.
In Holland, there have been campaigns to extend euthanasia laws to include those with dementia, mental illness and who are old and tired of life but not ill. Killing people in these categories is not legal under Dutch law, yet in 2013:
- 42 people with psychiatric problems were killed by euthanasia, and
- 97 people with dementia were killed.