Thursday 2 July 2009

Senior legal figures oppose assisted suicide amendments

Five senior legal figures have signed a letter to The Times to oppose amendments to the government's Coroners and Justice bill, amendments which would undermine the law against assisted suicide. The five figures are:
  • Lord Mackay of Clashfern, who was Lord Chancellor under Margaret Thatcher
  • Baroness Butler-Sloss, the former president of the Family Division
  • Lord Brennan QC, a deputy High Court judge
  • Lord Carlile QC, the government's independent reviewer of anti-terrorism laws; and
  • Lord Elystan-Morgan, a former solicitor.
The pro-euthanasia lobby cannot claim that this ad hoc group is simply a representation of the pro-life movement. Although Lord Brennan, former president of the Catholic Union, is a prominent defender of pro-life principles, in contrast Lord Mackay is a strong supporter of destructive embryo experimentation, and Baroness Butler-Sloss issued court rulings which allowed the euthanasia of mentally-incapacitated patients.

Their letter reads (in part):
"The State has a fundamental duty to protect the lives of its citizens ... What is now being suggested — a regime for exonerating assistance with suicide in advance of the act and removal of the CPS’s right to investigate after the event — would disturb this balance in favour of persons who might be inclined to encourage and assist others with suicide for other than altruistic reasons."
The coming together of these senior legal figures with such disparate views reflects the widespread opposition to the proposed amendments. Please tell members of the House of Lords about this letter when you contact them about the amendments - please see SPUC's action alert of 6 June.

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