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SPUC campaigns against euthanasia bill

8 March 2004

SPUC campaigns against euthanasia bill London, 8 March 2004--The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has warned that mistakes made before the legalisation of abortion could be repeated over euthanasia. It is launching one of its biggest ever campaigns against the draft Mental Incapacity Bill, including a parliamentary lobby next month. John Smeaton, SPUC's national director, said: "In 1966 and 1967 leading figures argued that parliament would never legalise abortion and that, in particular, the Catholic church should not speak out too loudly for fear of linking opposition to abortion too closely with Catholicism. As a consequence, the voice of at least two million pro-life citizens was muted and, since abortion was legalised, over six million children have been killed in the womb. "Some people are now saying that parliament will never legalise euthanasia. They say parliamentarians will amend the draft Mental Incapacity Bill when they are told that it will legalise euthanasia by neglect of reasonable care, including the starvation and dehydration of mentally incapacitated patients. It is said that the euthanasia sections of the Bill can be defeated and the good things in the Bill will be left intact. In the light of nearly 40 years' pro-life political experience, SPUC considers that such arguments are wrong for three reasons. "Firstly, it is wrong to argue that the euthanasia elements in this Bill can be removed leaving just the good parts. The key mechanisms authorised by the Bill and the fundamental principles it enshrines - autonomy, best interests, advance directives, powers of attorney - have been designed to allow euthanasia by neglect and, in some cases, to require it. This is the essential purpose of the Bill, as the commentary published by SPUC, makes clear. "Secondly, the government and the committee of peers and MPs which considered the Bill simply deny that the Bill authorises euthanasia by neglect and, once the Bill is introduced to parliament, this false message will be ruthlessly promoted with all the authority and resources which belong to government. Many pro-lifers will remember the debate in parliament in 1990 when MPs voted to allow abortion up to birth. Mr Kenneth Clarke MP, the then secretary of state for health, misled parliament, saying that doctors would do everything they could to save the life of the baby when carrying out a late abortion of a viable child. "Thirdly, the present government has a history of pushing measures through parliament in spite of profound opposition in many sections of society and substantial opposition in the House of Commons. They have done this on issues such as tuition fees and foundation hospitals. "Future generations will find it hard to forgive us if we fail to learn the political lessons of the past. The pro-life movement must marshal its forces along with the Christian churches, those of other faiths and all men and women of good will. The draft Mental Incapacity Bill equals euthanasia by neglect. That is the message we must get to MPs before it's too late. The government must be stopped in its tracks and action must be taken now to ensure that this terrible Bill, which will criminalise pro-life doctors and cause the deaths of countless vulnerable people, is never introduced to parliament." SPUC is preparing a leaflet which will encourage people to lobby their MPs on these dangers. SPUC members in England and Wales will go to the Westminster parliament on the 27th and 28th of next month. Supporters in Scotland will lobby their MPs in their constituencies at around the same time. There will be a briefing booklet for constituents. The government last month unreservedly endorsed the main thrust of the draft Mental Incapacity Bill.

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