UK parliament votes heavily against assisted suicide
A Catholic archbishop has welcomed the overwhelming defeat of a bill to legalise assisted suicide in England and Wales.
The Assisted Dying Bill was rejected, 330-118, after a debate on Friday in the House of Commons, London.
Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark said afterwards that he welcomed “Parliament’s recognition of the grave risks that this bill posed to the lives of our society’s most vulnerable people.”
“There is much excellent practice in palliative care, which we need to celebrate and promote, and I hope now the debate on assisted suicide is behind us, that this will become a focus for political action,” said Archbishop Smith, chairman of the Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
The vote at the end of the second reading of the Private Member’s Bill was the first time members of Parliament had the opportunity to vote on assisted suicide since 1997.
It would have allowed terminally ill adults who were deemed six months from death the right to obtain lethal drugs to commit suicide, pending approval of two doctors and permission of a High Court judge.
The bill came under sustained attack from members of all political parties during a four-hour debate.
Fiona Bruce, a Conservative Party member of Parliament opposed to the bill, said in a statement after the vote that “the most vulnerable, as well as the courts, now have absolute clarity that assisted suicide is not the route this country will go down.”
“That is a victory for the vulnerable, not least the many disabled people who have campaigned so passionately against this dangerous bill. This bill proposed that suicide was sometimes an answer, and that we should sometimes respond to a person’s suicidal feelings with a lethal injection.
“That is against everything that our health care system is built on regarding the value of life and protecting the vulnerable and would have been a backward step,” she added.Tags: Assisted suicide, catholic, London