Archbishop Eamon Martin enters ‘assisted dying’ debate

The Primate of All Ireland has waded into the row in Britain over the ‘Assisted Dying Bill’, which is to be debated in Westminster next week.

Archbishop Eamon Martin has described what is proposed in the bill as a “destructive and pessimistic approach to human life and has written to MPs in the north asking them to oppose it.

The bill provides for a person who is terminally ill and has six months or less to live to seek and lawfully be provided with assistance to end their own life. A judge would have to be satisfied that the terminally ill person had a voluntary, clear, settled, and informed wish to end their life and the person would have to sign a declaration to that effect. The form would also have to be countersigned by two doctors.

Debate in Britain over the bill has been intense — according to The Daily Telegraph, 80 doctors there have written an open letter to MPs warning that many elderly and disabled people already feel pressured to end their lives because they think they are a burden to relatives.

Archbishop Martin said he was appealing to all Catholics in the north “to become actively involved, as baptised Christians and as citizens, in promoting a culture of love, care, respect, and protection for every human life”.

He said he was asking those people to encourage their MPs to oppose the bill.

“The life of every human person is equally valuable, whatever the stage or state of that life. Every human life is worth living and worthy of our utmost care and protection to its natural end.

“As Pope Francis has said, ‘What a lie… to make people think that lives affected by grave illness are not worth living’.”

He added: “The human, moral, social and medical implications of the so-called ‘Assisted Dying Bill’ are far-reaching and profound. I appeal to Catholics and all who believe in the inherent dignity and value of every human life, in all its stages, to inform themselves about the important values at stake in this debate, to pray for the progress of a culture of life and mutual care in our society and to contact their member of parliament to ask them to oppose the passage of this bill in favour of a more humane and ethically sound future for humanity.”


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