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SPUC welcomes General Synod vote against euthanasia

12 July 2005

SPUC welcomes General Synod vote against euthanasia 12 July 2005 The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has welcomed last Saturday's vote in the Church of England's General Synod against legalising active euthanasia. The Synod's discussion came at a time when there are moves to make active euthanasia and assisted suicide legal in the United Kingdom. The debate was in response to Lord Joffe's private members' bill entitled Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill, which was introduced into the House of Lords last year. Synod voted by 293 to 1 against such a bill. Commenting on the outcome of the debate, the Rev. Steven Foster, chairman of SPUC Evangelicals (a division of SPUC), said: "This vote is most welcome as a clear endorsement of the Bible's teaching on the sanctity of human life. The prohibition on killing in the Ten Commandments applies equally in our hospitals as everywhere else. When people are seriously ill, the Christian response is to treat them with love and care until natural death. Legalising euthanasia would put unfair pressure on vulnerable patients, their families and those treating them to end life prematurely. Synod has taken a stand for the traditional view of the doctor as the minister of healing and care, not harm or death." Mr Foster went on to praise the joint submission from the Church of England and Roman Catholic bishops to the Select Committee on the Joffe Bill. In this the bishops draw from the lessons of the hospice movement about the support and dignity of those who are dying, and reject the legalisation of euthanasia as a step that would "fundamentally undermine the basis of law and medicine and undermine the duty of the state to care for vulnerable people". During the Synod debate, Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, highlighted the economic pressures behind the calls for euthanasia. SPUC has consistently warned of the dangers of euthanasia as a means of cost-cutting in the health services. Speeding the death of patients would enable beds to be freed more quickly and the expense of treatment to be curtailed. SPUC believes that this is already set to become common practice under the provisions of the Government's Mental Capacity Act, passed earlier this year, which will allow food and fluids to be withdrawn from some patients who are incapacitated.

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