Thursday, 25 February 2010

DPP guidelines blunt assisted suicide ban

New guidelines published today by Keir Starmer (pictured), the director of public prosecutions (DPP) blunt the law against assisted suicide.

Paul Tully of SPUC Pro-Life, which was officially represented before the courts in the Debbie Purdy case, told the media this morning:
"It is not credible for Keir Starmer to claim that he has not relaxed prosecuting policy on assisted suicide. The new policy effectively decriminalises assisted suicide in a wide range of circumstances.

"Assisting suicide is wrong in itself, not merely because there may be coercion or ulterior motives involved. The intentional killing of the innocent is always wrong.

"Mr Starmer has said today: 'The case of Purdy did not change the law, nor does this Policy, and suggestions to the contrary are simply wrong.' Mr Starmer cannot make this true just by saying it. He must demonstrate his determination to bring prosecutions that euthanasia-sympathisers in the media will dislike. Such prosecutions will be used to generate vitriol against him by the euthanasia lobby in the BBC and other media and in the judiciary. We saw this in the recent case of Lynn Gilderdale and Mr Justice Bean.

"The focus on motivation (why the suspect assisted a suicide) rather than intention (the suspect's deliberate will to assist the suicide) is a radical departure from the rule of law. The 'victim’s wish to die' is the most significant factor now in the guidelines. It undermines the law, and is the main concession that the euthanasia lobby was seeking. It makes assisted suicide very different from other serious crimes against the person, where consent to becoming a victim is not accepted either as a defence in court or as a factor against prosecution.

"The fact that references to disability have been eliminated will be something of a relief to disabled people and their families, and this eliminates one of the anomalies between this offence-specific code and the general code for Crown Prosecutors. However, the disabled and chronically ill remain the most likely victims of this weakening of the right to life."
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