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Former Archbishop of Canterbury Challenges Official Stance of the Church on End-of-Life Choices

Lord George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury,  has made a bold call for a debate on the law governing assisted dying in the United Kingdom.

His advocacy for assisted suicide has sparked controversy and raised concerns among Christian groups.

Lord Carey, who held the position of archbishop from 1991 to 2002, argued that assisted dying is a profoundly Christian issue, rooted in the principles of compassion and preventing unnecessary suffering. He highlighted the importance of allowing individuals to have control over their own lives, especially when faced with debilitating illnesses or extreme pain.

This stance puts him at odds with the official position of the Church of England, which has consistently opposed assisted suicide. The Church has expressed concerns that legalizing assisted dying could potentially put vulnerable individuals, particularly the elderly, at risk of coercion or premature death.

The Church has also warned that countries that have implemented such legislation have experienced a slippery slope effect, with the process becoming more permissive over time.

Carey has long been an advocate for assisted dying, voicing his support since 2014 when he backed a bill introduced by Labour’s Lord Falconer in the House of Lords. Although the bill did not pass, the topic has resurfaced as lawmakers on the health select committee reconsider assisted suicide and euthanasia.

The current proposal involves a careful examination of necessary safeguards to prevent coercion and the prerequisites for an individual’s consent to terminate their life.

In his submission to the inquiry, Carey highlighted his belief that one of the essential Christian values is to prevent individuals from enduring involuntary suffering. He emphasized that assisted dying should only be accessible to those who express a clear and persistent desire for it, suggesting that aiding those who wish to end their suffering is an act of great generosity, kindness, and human love.

Furthermore, Carey argued that our society should reflect compassion in its laws, urging the government to gather evidence from diverse sources and foster a meaningful debate to facilitate legislative change.

To support his stance, Carey referred to evidence from jurisdictions such as Oregon, California, Australia, and New Zealand, where laws permitting individuals to choose the manner of their death, along with appropriate safeguards, have been successfully enacted.

Lord Carey’s call for debate comes at a time when the topic of assisted dying is being increasingly discussed in the public sphere. Advocacy groups and individuals who support the right to die with dignity have been pushing for changes to the law, arguing that terminally ill patients should have the option to end their lives on their own terms.

Opponents of assisted dying, including Christian organizations, have raised concerns about the potential abuse of such legislation. They argue that legalizing assisted suicide may undermine the sanctity of life and lead to unintended consequences. They also emphasize the importance of providing comprehensive palliative care and support services to alleviate suffering.

The former archbishop’s intervention has reignited the ongoing ethical and moral debate surrounding assisted dying. Proponents of a change in legislation believe that it is essential for the government to seriously consider the views of Lord Carey and others who advocate for assisted suicide.

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