Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Watching the British "Pro-Life" Machine Retool.

John Smeaton, Director of the British Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), is organizing a campaign to contact members of the House of Lords to oppose an amendment to the Coroners and Justice bill that will allow assisted suicide.

First introduced by Lord Falconer and then re-introduced by Lord Alderice, the amendment is to be debated on Monday, October 26.

According to Smeaton:

The amendment reads: "[N]o offence shall have been committed if assistance is given to a person to commit suicide who is suffering from a confirmed, incurable and disabling illness which prevents them from carrying through their own wish to bring their life to a close, if the person has received certification from a coroner who has investigated the circumstances, and satisfied himself that it is indeed the free and settled wish of the person that they bring their life to a close."

Watching Britain's struggle with aid in dying, commonly called assisted suicide or euthanasia by opponents (or Jack Kevorkian), has been an insightful companion forum to our own discourse here in the US. While aid in dying is illegal in Britain, Debbie Purdy won a case this summer that prevents her husband, Omar, from being prosecuted for helping her to travel to Switzerland for aid in dying. She is diagnosed with terminal multiple sclerosis. Purdy's case caused the government to recently define the laws regarding prosecution of those who aid or assist terminal patients to end their lives.

As in the US, organizations in Britain that have solely focused on limiting access to abortion have taken up the aid in dying issue. SPUC is only one of such "pro-life" organizations employing their existing machine, resources and funds to fight terminal patients' rights.

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