Chief Rabbi: ‘Assisted dying bill could put vulnerable people at risk’

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Chief Rabbi: ‘Assisted dying bill could put vulnerable people at risk’

Ephraim Mirvis speaks out alongside other senior faith leaders against moves to allow assisted dying in some cases.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis

The Chief Rabbi has joined with faith leaders including the Archbishop of Canterbury to warn of the risk of allowing assisted suicide.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, alongside Archbishop Justin Welby, and Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, spoke today of their “profound disquiet” over the Assisted Dying Bill.

The proposed legislation tabled by Baroness Meecher would legalise assisted suicide for terminally ill people with under six months to live, if successful.

But the trio of faith leaders say the bill would put “very many vulnerable people in more vulnerable positions.”

“We acknowledge that Baroness Meacher is seeking the alleviation of suffering. This motivation we share wholeheartedly, but we disagree on the means advanced to address this very real concern,” say the faith leaders in a letter to peers.

“In particular, we are conscious of the risks and dangers entailed in the provisions of the Bill and the ‘real-life’ practical inadequacies of the proposed safeguards.

“By the faiths we profess, we hold every human life to be a precious gift of the Creator, to be upheld and protected.”

They call for measures to “make high-quality palliative care available to all at the end of their lives,” saying that the “aim of a compassionate society should be assisted living rather than an acceptance of assisted suicide.”

While the Chief Rabbi is opposed to moves to liberalise assisted dying, Liberal Judaism has previously backed calls to change the law.

The Private Member’s Bill is to have its second reading in the House of Lords on Friday, and would require two doctors and a senior judge to assess each request for assisted dying.

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