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Conway case - SPUC condemns backdoor attempt to undermine protections for the vulnerable

19 January 2018

The decision by the Court of Appeal to give a terminally ill man permission to appeal a decision against assisted suicide shows again that the assisted suicide/euthanasia lobby is prepared to bypass Parliament's rejection of inhumane and dangerous legislation.

SPUC's Dr Anthony McCarthy commented on the development:

"Noel Conway's wish to be assisted in killing himself by doctors was rightly rejected last year in Court. In a strongly-worded statement, the judges found that, "It is legitimate in this area for the legislature to seek to lay down clear and defensible standards in order to provide guidance for society, to avoid distressing and difficult disputes at the end of life and to avoid creating a slippery slope leading to incremental expansion over time of the categories of people to whom similar assistance for suicide might have to be provided." That judgement ultimately found that section 2 of the Human Rights Act (right to life) was compatible with Article 8 rights (private and family life).

Having failed to undermine this country's protections for vulnerable people through Parliament, assisted suicide campaigners are now moving to use the courts to bypass not only Parliament but opposition from major medical bodies, not to mention the main disability groups.

Mr Conway's distressing condition makes it all the more important that he is given the best medical and palliative care, including any necessary psychological and emotional support, while his life's intrinsic value is always affirmed and not denied.

It is laughable to suggest that there is no slippery slope when it comes to assisted suicide. Once the idea of lives with no remaining value takes hold, we see the expansion of claims to be allowed to die simply because the patient wants this (for example an older person who is merely 'tired of life'). In legislatures where assisted suicide and/or euthanasia is permitted and data is available we have seen an ever-widening scope of people being allowed and encouraged to end their lives and indeed, appalling numbers of people killed non-voluntarily, both the elderly and children.

Assisted suicide is sometimes actively offered to those who simply want good health care: in Oregon, as Dr Peter Saunders has pointed out, 'there are examples of cancer patients being denied lifesaving and life-extending drugs, yet offered a lethal cocktail of barbiturates to end their own lives.'

SPUC stands with the vulnerable who need help, and against those who would undermine legal protection for them, and who ignore powerful evidence from abroad of what happens when we open the door to the view that certain lives have no value and may be deliberately ended on that ground." 

For more information

Contact Dr Anthony McCarthy, SPUC Director of Education and Communications, on:

  • 020 7820 3144
  • anthonymccarthy@spuc.org.uk
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