Comment by Archbishop Peter Smith on assisted suicide amendments to the Coroners and Justice Bill

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It has been announced that there is to be a free vote in June in the House of Lords during the committee stage of the Coroners and Justice Bill on amendments to change the law on assisted suicide. The Most Rev Peter Smith, Archbishop of Cardiff, and Chairman of the Bishops’ Conference Department of Christian Responsibility and Citizenship, made the following comment today:

“These sections of the Coroners and Justice Bill (Sections 49-51) are designed to tighten the law in order to protect vulnerable people from internet websites that encourage or promote suicide. To amend it, as some are suggesting, to permit assistance with suicide would be perverse. It would result in a law that pointed in contradictory directions – banning encouragement with suicide but allowing assistance with it. Legalising assistance with suicide is a complex and controversial issue that cannot be addressed simply via an amendment to a wide-ranging bill designed for other purposes.

“The issues surrounding legalisation of assisted suicide are not just ones of conscience or morality. There are also serious issues here of public safety, which it is the Government’s responsibility to safeguard.”