MPs urged to resist legalisation of assisted suicide

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Christians are joining protests outside Parliament as MPs debate proposals to change the law on assisted suicide.

The debate is taking place in Westminster today after a petition backed by Dame Esther Rantzen gained more than 200,000 signatures. 

"We believe dying people in the UK should have the option of requesting medical assistance to end their lives with dignity," the petition reads.

The Christian Legal Centre (CLC), which will be joining the protests outside Parliament, called the campaign in support of changing the law "concerted, dangerous and misguided". 

CLC chief executive Andrea Williams said: "Is this what we want in this country? Assisted suicide isn't compassionate. It deliberately takes the life of an innocent human, made in God's image. When you cross that line, you open up the door to all kinds of abuse.

"The media coverage on this issue in recent months has been very one-sided. It is time for the stories of life and hope to be heard and the voices of concern about the law changes being proposed.

"The slippery slope on these issues is real. The statistics and stories from countries that have recently liberalised euthanasia should be a warning to us all."

Other groups taking part in the protest include Care Not Killing, Not Dead Yet and Distant Voices. 

Dr Gordon Macdonald, CEO of Care Not Killing, has called today's debate a missed opportunity to talk about the UK's "broken" palliative care system and the £100 million "black hole" in the hospice budget.

"Changing the law would put pressure on the elderly, vulnerable and disabled people into ending their lives prematurely. This is what we see in the US State of Oregon, which has an assisted suicide system and where a majority of those ending their lives in 2023 cited the fear of being a burden on their families, carers or finances as a reason," he said. 

"While in Canada, which has a euthanasia system, 1,700 of those whose lives were ended cited loneliness as a reason in 2022. We have also seen the deeply troubling cases of Paralympians, army veterans and disabled people being offered 'an assisted death' rather than the support they need to live.

"Then there is the myth of the 'Hollywood death'. Studies show those who ingest death row drugs as used in Oregon, far from having a quick and painless death, slowly drown in their own secretions and die of what doctors call a pulmonary oedema.

"And this is before we get to the worrying data from the US and Europe that shows legalising euthanasia and assisted suicide, far from reducing the number of suicides seems to be associated with an increase in the numbers of people taking their own lives in the general population, perhaps because it normalises the idea and practice of suicide."

Joining today's protest is Nikki Kenward who lost all movement except the ability to blink in one eye after contracting Guillain-Barr√© Syndrome. She said that it would have been easy to choose assisted suicide if it had been available at the time, but is now glad she got to see her son grow up and get married. 

"I believe that suicide is not the answer, the answer is to be cared for with absolutely brilliant, palliative care," she said.