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19 November 2014

Life issues in parliament: an update

Life issues in parliament: an update


Fiona Bruce MP has introduced a bill to parliament that would make it illegal have sex-selective abortions in the UK.

The government says that abortion on the basis of sex is illegal in this country but sadly this doesn't seem to always be the case. The 1967 Abortion Act does not specify the illegality of an abortion sought on the grounds of sex which is why Fiona has introduced this bill.

The British Medical Association has said that gender abortion could be allowed on the basis of mental health. And the British Pregnancy Advisory Service maintains that gender abortion is not illegal.

Human life should always be held in the highest regard, and every baby deserves to be born no matter their gender.

Assisted Dying Bill: an update

Earlier this month Lord Falconer's Assisted Dying Bill began its committee stage in the House of Lords. Report stage and third reading are expected to follow shortly.

If passed this bill would grant physician-assisted suicide for mentally competent, terminally ill adults who have six months, or less, to live.

As the bill comes up to the final stages in the House of Lords we are urging people to contact peers and ask them to oppose this dangerous, unethical and unnecessary bill.

You can write to peers through the Care Not Killing website.

There is a valid concern that legalising assisted suicide would put some of the most vulnerable in society at risk, especially people who are disabled, elderly, sick or depressed.. In a society which increasingly places value on our output it is not unreasonable to assume that there would be an increased pressure on vulnerable people to end their lives for fear of being a financial, emotional or care burden upon others.

In countries where assisted suicide is legal we have seen an 'incremental extension of the law. This is where doctors broaden the parameters of the categories included - from mentally competent to competent, from terminal to chronic illness, from adults to children. In the Netherlands assisted suicide is now reportedly being offered to children. This was not the intention when the law was first introduced.

In Belgium for example there are already a number of cases where assisted suicide has been granted beyond the ambiguous parameters set out in the law and arguably wholly removed from the original purpose of legalising assisted suicide. They include deaf and blind twins Mark and Eddy Verbessem, Nathan/Nancy Verhelst who suffered depression following gender reassignment and a woman who had anorexia.

The present law making assisted suicide illegal does not need changing as it works well to protect the vulnerable and promote a culture of life rather than one of hopelessness for people in the midst of very difficult circumstances. The UK offers high quality palliative care which can effectively deal with most forms of physical pain and distress. We should focus on promoting and investing in this care rather than shifting the focus to a dangerous alternative.

It is a slippery slope when we move away from the primary function of the law which is to protect the vulnerable many and begin making law to grant liberties to the determined and desperate few.

Please join us in promoting a society that values every individual and protects our most vulnerable by advocating for the bill not to become law.