Top U.K. Church Leaders to Fight Euthanasia in Upcoming Debate

LONDON – The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is expected to head a group this week to fight a bill up before the House of Lords aiming to allow voluntary euthanasia.

Some of Britain’s leading Anglicans will support Dr Williams – including the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, and 24 other Anglican bishops – as they take their seats in the House of Lords. The Christian representatives will argue that if assisted dying becomes legal it would create a dangerous moral watershed for Britain, report The Times.

Lord Joffe’s proposals say that if a mentally competent adult that has a terminal disease requests medical assistance to die, doctors should oblige.

The controversial proposals have been opposed by a host of religious groups and human rights activists. Dr Williams has stated that voluntary euthanasia would undermine the care offered to sick and dying patients.

Friday, May 12, will see the bill put before the House of Lords for a second reading, and Dr Williams will debate that the nursing profession opposes assisted dying and the majority of doctors feel it would damage their relationship with patients.

Dr Williams has said that he cared for his mother in her “last months of decline and dementia,” and he stated, “When we see protracted pain and distress it stretches our compassion to its limits.”

However, he added, “this must not be an excuse for sleepwalking into a situation where the ordinary building blocks of trust ... in the whole legal fabric of our society can be abandoned.”

Other senior figures that will stand alongside Dr Williams in the debate are the bishops of Oxford, Portsmouth and St Albans.

As well as the Church of England, the Catholic Church in England has been passionately campaigning against the proposals. The Catholic Church has urged all its followers to write to their MPs and peers to express their opposition to the voluntary euthanasia bill.

However, it appears as if some campaigners have pushed the debate too far, as Lord Joffe has reported receiving bags of hate mail, with some even comparing him to a Nazi and likening his proposals to the holocaust.

The opposition to the bill has continued to gather momentum, as the Church of England and the Catholic Church have been given support from a powerful coalition of faith groups and medical associations.

“Care Not Killing” has brought together a host of organizations to fight the bill, and on Friday, it will deliver a petition of 25,000 signatures to Downing Street stating its objections to the morals of the bill.

Coinciding with the petition and the Lords’ reading, another coalition of disabled rights activists will commence a campaign against euthanasia on Friday. “Not Dead Yet” is a group of members that have terminal illnesses and would potentially fall under the legislation proposed by Lord Joffe.