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Assisted dying law change 'would place vulnerable elderly at risk'

The current law regarding assisted dying ought not to be changed, to avoid placing elderly people at greater risk, writes the Revd Dr Brendan McCarthy, the Archbishops' Council's National Adviser on Medical Ethics and Social Care Policy, in this week's Church of England Newspaper.

Dr McCarthy writes: "…any change in the law will place vulnerable people at greater risk than at present. Society cannot afford to take an unrealistically optimistic view of human nature. The fact that each year, in England, more than 300,000 elderly people are abused, often at the hands of their close relatives, ought to alert everyone to the dangers of creating new areas of potential abuse."

The article reminds readers that "the consistent position of the Church of England, reiterated in a motion passed by General Synod in February this year, is that the current law ought not to be changed".

It also underlines the face that "any relaxation of the law is likely to have unintended negative consequences for society's appreciation of the intrinsic value of human life"; and reminds readers that assisted suicide and euthanasia, once enacted, "do not permit any change of mind".

Noting that "the Director of Public Prosecutions' guidelines ensure that the law is applied in a compassionate and humane manner", the full article can be read in full in the Church of England Newspaper and appears online at:   


The General Synod motion passed in February can be found here.

A special website section devoted to the assisted dying debate can be found here.

The Policy for Prosecutors in Respect of Cases of Encouraging or Assisting Suicide is available here.

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