Faith Groups Join Forces Against Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia

Open Letter in United Kingdom Warns of Fallout If Law Changes

PDF, attached, signed by Greek Orthodox Abp Gregorios of Great Britain.

LONDON, OCT. 13, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Nine leading figures from the six major faith groups have joined forces to warn about any proposed change in British law to allow assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia.

The unprecedented action came just a few days before last Monday’s high-profile debate in the House of Lords on the Select Committee report on Lord Joffe’s Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill.

Today, the nine leaders, representing many millions of adherents, including Christians, Hindus, Jews and Muslims, signed and published an open letter that will be sent to all members of both Houses of Parliament.

The Office of Media Relations of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales published the letter, describing the move.

According to the joint letter, the legalization of assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia “would radically alter the moral basis of our society by severely undermining respect for life.”

The religious leaders “collectively reaffirm their belief in the sanctity of human life which is underpinned by rapid advances in palliative care for the relief of the terminally ill and their families.”

Re-prioritization

To provide “good care does not require any change in the law but a re-prioritization of National Health Service (NHS) resources in order to ensure that adequate training is given to doctors and nurses and that centers of specialist palliative care exist where they can be accessed by those who need them,” they wrote.

“The argument that assisted suicide or euthanasia is necessary to deal with the suffering of terminal illness is false,” the religious leaders stressed.

They noted the opposition of the great majority of medical professionals to assisted death.

The religious leaders also pointed out the problems faced by countries that have legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide. In the Netherlands, they said, one in every 32 deaths arises from legal or illegal euthanasia. They reckon that a similar law in the United Kingdom could lead to 13,000 deaths a year.

Duty to die?

The signatories point out that Dutch pro-euthanasia groups are now campaigning for further relaxations of the law, for example, to encompass people with dementia.

In their final warning, the religious leaders conclude by saying that the “so-called right to die would inexorably become the duty to die and potentially economic pressures and convenience would come to dominate decision-making.”

Among the signers is Catholic Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff, Wales.

The letter, in PDF format, is posted at The letter, in PDF format, is posted at www.catholic-ew.org.uk/cn/05/documents/FaithleadersletterPDF3.pdf