Submission to the Commission on Assisted Dying.

Mr W. Bradley
Commission on Assisted Dying
c/o Demos
Third Floor, Magdalen House
136 Tooley Street
London SE1 2TU.


Dear Mr Bradley,

I am a freelance writer, speaker and consultant on bioethical issues – my personal website is  I have lectured, debated, broadcast and written about bioethics for the last 30 or so years.  I therefore have a great interest in the current debate on euthanasia.

Though I have not personally been invited to submit evidence to the Commission on Assisted Dying, I wish to make the following statement:

The Commission is sponsored and funded by individuals and organisations which support euthanasia in general, and assisted dying in particular.  The chairman of the Commission, Lord Falconer, is a well-known advocate of assisted dying.  Moreover, it is my understanding that the majority of the Commissioners also favour the legalisation of assisted dying.  Thus the Commission cannot be regarded as truly independent or unbiased.  It seems inevitable that its conclusions will support altering the law in favour of assisted dying.

My opposition to any change in the current law on assisted suicide is based on the following six propositions:

1]  Human life is a gift from God. He is the Giver, Sustainer and Taker of life (Genesis 1:27; Psalm 54:4; Psalm 104:29).  We are stewards, not autonomous owners, of that gift.  Life is, therefore, never to be rejected, or prematurely terminated.

2]  Though suicide has been decriminalised, it still remains a traumatic and selfish act.  The Bible is not silent on this matter.  It contains at least five examples, all of men, who committed suicide – their ends were tragic and not one of them was commended by God.  Their lives and deaths are included in the Book as a warning to the rest of us.

3]  It is impossible to draft a sufficiently watertight law, which would allow some to commit assisted suicide, but which would simultaneously protect the vulnerable elderly, sick and disabled.  In other words, that dreaded slippery slope, from voluntary to non-voluntary euthanasia, would be set in motion, as has occurred in the Netherlands and elsewhere.

4]  Euthanasia of any sort makes a mockery of the ethics and practices of proper, wholesome medicine over the last 2,000 years.  Its two grand pillars, the Hippocratic oath, specifically and strictly forbids euthanasia, while the Judaeo-Christian doctrines command that, ‘You shall not murder.’

5]  Palliative care is the antidote to any calls for the legalisation of euthanasia.  There is a certain irony that now, of all times, when palliative care and the hospice movement are making such wonderful strides in helping people to die well, anyone should seek a law to permit euthanasia.

6]  Despite opinion polls suggesting otherwise, there is no real clamour to legalise euthanasia.  In the past 15 or so months, at least eight legislatures from around the world have rejected calls to legalise euthanasia and assisted dying.  It is especially notable that last year in the Scottish Parliament, the End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill was heavily defeated by 85 votes to 16.

I trust that the Commission on Assisted Dying comes to the conclusion that there is neither call nor need to legalise any form of euthanasia in the UK.

Yours sincerely,

      John R. Ling.

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