The Anglican Bishop of Worcester has urged MPs to vote against assisted suicide, warning it will inevitably lead to terminally ill people feeling pressured to kill themselves.
The Right Rev John Inge said that his wife’s death from cancer last year showed him how people can still have a good quality of life right until the end, and that legalising assisted suicide will pressure many people dying too soon so as not to be a burden on friends and family.
This coming Friday, MPs will debate a bill put forward by Labour MP Rob Marris to allow doctors to assist terminally ill people in committing suicide.
Speaking to ITV News, Inge said: “The fact that my wife was diagnosed with inoperable cancer brought these issues home to me in a way that I had never experienced them before, and I began to see from a personal point of view the effect assisted dying legislation would have upon people like my wife.”
He fears that if she felt a burden on him, she may have felt morally pressured into an assisted suicide.
When asked what advice he had for MPs ahead of Friday’s vote, he said: “Please turn up and please vote against it.”
Advocates of assisted suicide say Marris’s bill is relatively modest and will only apply to people who are clearly terminally ill, but opponents that a similar law in Oregon has led to sinister consequences.
Campaign group No to Assisted Suicide says that under the Oregon system, 59 per cent of those who died under the legislation said they “felt a burden”, therefore indication their choices had not been freely made.
Belgium has passed a series of laws allowing assisted suicide under an increasingly large number of circumstances, and last year became the first country in the world to allow child euthanasia. In September it even allowed a prisoner to commit suicide because prison made him depressed – a decision described as the country’s first execution for 64 years.