A Catholic peer has criticised a Tory MP’s prediction that euthanasia could be legalised in the UK within four years, saying that such a statement is not a prediction but an attempt to change the law.
Andrew Mitchell, MP for Sutton Coldfield and the newly appointed co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group for choice at the end of life, said he believes a law legalising euthanasia could be passed before the end of this parliament in 2024.
“We need to make clear that we are not looking here for a massive change. We are looking for very, very tight reform,” Mr Mitchell told Sky News.
“I think that given the very limited nature of these proposals; that it would be for someone who is within six months of the end of their life, with very strong safeguards, the decision being made by a High Court judge, by two doctors – I think those limited proposals may command the support of parliament in the next four years,” he added.
However, Lord David Alton of Liverpool, a Catholic and long-time pro-life advocate, warned that such a statement was not a prediction but an attempt to make the law change happen.
“Too often statements like these are not predictions but indicative of a determination to make the wish father to the deed,” Lord Alton told The Catholic Universe.
“The proponents of euthanasia drip, drip, drip the thought that changing the law to permit lawful killing is inevitable. But what is it they want to make lawful?
“They argue that euthanasia should be allowed in limited circumstances to alleviate pain when someone is dying.
“But we all know this is a monumental deceit,” Lord Alton said.
He also warned that although the Mr Mitchell was not looking for a “massive change” to the law, any exception being made would lead to deaths and the possibility of further exceptions somewhere down the line.
“When such an exception is made it merely opens the door to more and more exceptions and more and more deaths,” he said.
“The law quickly morphs to include those with non-life-threatening chronic illnesses; to people who are disabled; to children and newly born babies; to those who have dementia or mental illness; and then to healthy people who have become tired of life.”
Pointing out how Canada had changed the law to legalise euthanasia in June 2016, Lord Alton cited recent reports of a 78-year-old woman who said that she wanted her life ended because of the pressure of shielding during Covid-19.
Shirley Turton, 78, of New Colombia, is said to be “depressed…and most of all she is lonely”.
Lord Alton said: “Are we to confront such challenges by killing patients rather than caring for them?”
“The cure for pain is analgesia. The cure for loneliness is companionship.
“Canada’s ‘strict conditions’ haven’t proved to be worth the paper on which they are written,” he said.
“Now the supporters of euthanasia would have us believe it is indispensable in a civilised society,” Lord Alton continued.
“Nothing could be further from the truth. If we lose hope in care and compassion we lose everything. Care and kill can never be used as synonyms.
“How ironic that as thousands mourn the deaths of loved ones from Covid and thousands use their skills to save the lives of so many others that politicians should be devoting their energy to the taking of life.”
Meanwhile, Catherine Robinson, of Right to Life UK, said attempts from the assisted suicide lobby have consistently been rejected by Parliament and rather than continue to waste money and resources in an effort to end lives, this should be put towards improving the country’s palliative care provision.
“Thankfully, despite the best efforts of well-resourced assisted suicide activists, the UK has consistently rejected attempts to introduce assisted dying legislation,” Ms Robinson told The Catholic Universe.
“Over the last decade, parliament has consistently rejected attempts by the assisted suicide lobby to introduce assisted dying. The most recent defeat for the assisted suicide lobby, in 2015, was its biggest one yet, with just 118 votes in favour of introducing of assisted dying and a huge 330 against.”
Ms Robinson noted that it was just last year when the High Court rejected a judicial review of the current law on assisted suicide, with judges stating the court was “not an appropriate forum for the discussion of the sanctity of life”. The Court of Appeal rejected an attempt to challenge this decision earlier this year.
Shortly after that decision, the Lord Chancellor announced there would be no review of the law on assisted dying.
Ms Robinson pointed out that in addition to this, not a single doctors’ group or major disability rights organisation in the UK supports changing the law, including the British Medical Association (BMA), the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Physicians, the British Geriatric Society and the Association for Palliative Medicine.
“The assisted suicide lobby have exhausted all their options,” she said.
“Rather than continue to pour millions of pounds in attempting to introduce a law, which in Canada has pressured lonely and vulnerable people to end their lives, they should be campaigning to improve the UK’s palliative care provision and affirm their right to life.”
Picture: Archive photo, dated 27th May 2015, shows objectors to assisted suicide. ( Andrew Milligan/PA).