‘Lethal drugs are not the civilised solution for people seeking a peaceful death,’ says Bishop of Nottingham

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The Bishop of Nottingham has spoken out against draft legislation which would legalise assisted suicide, warning that it would send the message that ‘some lives are not worth fighting for.’

In a short message via Youtube, Bishop Patrick McKinney made an impassioned plea for members of his diocese to speak out against the proposed changes outlined Baroness Meacher’s Bill and “send the message that a prescription for lethal drugs is not the civilised solution for vulnerable people seeking a dignified and peaceful end.”

Baroness Meacher’s latest Bill would allow physician-assisted suicide for terminally-ill adults with less than six months to live, subject to the approval of two doctors and a high court judge. It has passed its First Reading in the House of Lords.

Bishop McKinney said: “We have just lived through a global pandemic where we have all played our part, and many have made huge sacrifices, to protect the most clinically vulnerable members of our society from a potentially deadly virus. This response has clearly affirmed that, as a civilised society, we naturally value the life of each individual, regardless of their age or medical profile.

“Introducing a system which would license assisted suicide for the terminally-ill would send the message – however unintentionally- that some lives are no longer worth fighting for. Our law as it stands, which prohibits assisted suicide, sends a clear message: we do not involve ourselves in bringing about the death of another person, no matter how ill or depressed they might feel. This is the surest way to protect those who are nearing the end of their lives from abuse, coercion or, indeed, internal pressure to choose assisted death out of fear of burdening their loved ones.

“Finally, under our current law and practices, doctors have a duty of care to do everything in their power to make death a peaceful and dignified experience. To offer patients in despair a lethal prescription instead, would represent a disturbing shift in our culture of care.”

He then went on to encourage members of his Diocese to sign up for a Zoom talk, hosted by Nottingham Diocese and delivered by former paralympian, Baroness Grey, entitled: ‘Assisted Dying: A win for personal autonomy or a loss for civil society?’

The bishop continued: “The Baroness will discuss the flaws within the Meacher Bill and the worrying lack of safeguards. We are extremely privileged to have such insights from someone who has courageously fought disability discrimination, and who recognises so clearly the ramifications of the Meacher Bill for both disabled people and our wider society. I encourage all of you listening now to sign up for her talk. This will take place via Zoom on Thursday 9 September at 7.30pm.”