Wednesday, December 16, 2009

British Medicine Has A Religion Problem Too.

A battle has been raging in British Parliament since Debby Purdy won her case this summer that allows spouses or others to assist terminally ill patients to travel to other countries for aid in dying. Aid in dying (assisted suicide, euthanasia) is illegal in Britain but the court decision has forced the Director of Public Prosecutions to revise the laws and what can only be called a culture war has raged on ever since.

Lord Joffe, a member of the House of Lords, pens an article for Times Online that criticizes religious advocates for imposing their doctrine on the country's lawmakers and patients.

For the mirror-view of how the USCCB is working in the US to shape health care reform - because they can and because they are the second largest deliverer of medical services in the US - Britain's current struggle is a great study.

In the US, patients' rights have never been successfully defended on religious grounds, only privacy grounds, despite the fact that opposition to such services as contraception, abortion, sterilizations, fertilization services, counseling for STDs and AIDS is primarily religious. It's a sad state of our health care delivery that the courts haven't mustered the frankness to protect the millions of women, gays, men and elders each year who are subjected to religious discrimination and denied their rights.

Here are replies to the article. Note the second one comes from Care Not Killing, an anti-aid in dying activist group.

Here's Joffe's article:

It came as no surprise that there was the usual outcry against the interim report on prosecution in respect of cases of assisted suicide by the Director of Public Prosecutions. Headlines appeared saying, “Assisted suicide proposals ‘unacceptable in a civilised society’ — Roman Catholic bishops”, while last month a letter to The Times from Lord Mackay of Clashfern, et al, accused the policy of placing people at risk, and directed readers to the response of the alliance Care Not Killing (CNK).

The CNK is an organisation created to oppose assisted suicide. Its core members include the Church of England, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference and most other faith-based organisations, all of which are implacably opposed to assisted suicide. The alliance demands that the policy be restructured using a provision in the code for crown prosecutors that says prosecution should take place unless public interest weighs against it. Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, in his judgment on the Debbie Purdy case, criticised the unhelpfulness of the code itself as any sort of guide in cases of assisted suicide.

The CNK’s response also makes no reference to public opinion. As Baroness Hale of Richmond said in her judgment: “The British public have consistently supported assisted dying for people with a painful or unbearable incurable disease from which they will die.” Meanwhile, a survey conducted by The Times in July found 74 per cent in support of assisted suicide for the terminally ill and only 23 per cent against.

Looked at as a whole, the CNK response clearly aims to reduce to the very minimum those who will not be prosecuted for assisted dying.

Those who base their views on their faith have no alternative other than to oppose it. They regard suicide as a sin. So when the DPP assesses the responses to the consultation, he should be aware that many will come from the relatively small minority who base their views on their faith, and have been encouraged by their religious leaders to write to him. Meanwhile, most of the silent majority who support assisted dying and, it can be assumed, would also support the policy, either do not know of the consultation or have not had the same kind of face-to-face encouragement to respond.

As it now stands, the policy complies exactly with the law lords’ interpretation of the law and provides the necessary factors, in precise and clear language, that will enable both the public and prosecutors to make their decisions over this difficult subject.

Lord Joffe has introduced Bills on assisted dying to the House of Lords

Labels: , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home