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Defending life
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Nursing college position on assisted suicide shameful

24 July 2009

Nursing college position on assisted suicide shameful London, 24 July 2009 - The Royal College of Nursing's revised position on assisted suicide has been criticised as a shameful manoeuvre which serves the interests of the euthanasia lobby.

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), a leading anti-euthanasia group, says that the adoption of a neutral position on suicide does not help patients or nurses. SPUC is currently intervening in the legal case brought by Debbie Purdy, a woman with multiple sclerosis backed by euthanasia campaigners.

Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, said: "Assisting or encouraging a person to commit suicide is a criminal offence. It is irresponsible for a professional body of carers to adopt a posture that helping a person to commit suicide is a reasonable thing to do. "For hundreds of years western civilisation has regarded suicide as morally disordered. When suicide ceased to be a crime in 1961, it was made clear by the government that the change was not intended to give any sense of moral approval to suicide. It was from a motive of compassion to families and to survivors of suicide attempts. "In recent years media coverage of suicide has been distorted by an intensive focus on a tiny handful of untypical cases selected by the pro-euthanasia lobby. While these cases are presented as reasonable people - often terminally ill - doing a reasonable thing, over 5,000 tragic suicides are reported by the Office for National Statistics each year. Typically these are young men (aged 15-44) and are often depressed or emotionally disturbed - but not terminally ill. "The RCN's Council have based their change on a consultation exercise in which only a fraction of one percent of their members took part. They clearly have no mandate from nurses as a whole for this move," concluded Mr Tully.

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