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Catholics and MPs urged to oppose assisted suicide

Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin

AHEAD of a House of Commons debate on euthanasia next week, Archbishop of Armagh Dr Eamon Martin has called on "Catholics and others" to oppose a controversial proposal to legalise assisted suicide.

Dr Martin has written to Northern Ireland's 18 MPs about what he described as "the destructive and pessimistic" approach to human life in the Assisted Dying Bill.

He said that if the bill did eventually became law, the "human, moral, social and medical implications" would be "far-reaching and profound".

Human progress, he wrote, "is about enhancing the life-supporting care we give to one another in the midst of life's challenges and difficulties".

"It can never be about destroying human life or harming another person. In opposing this bill, you be making a clear statement that the future of humanity does not lie in a culture of death and the deliberate destruction of another, but in a culture of life and care for one another in which medicine and science are at the service of human dignity, not threats to our very existence."

Speaking about his intervention, Dr Martin said he hoped "Catholics and others" would oppose the bill.

The Assisted Dying Bill is a private member's bill, sponsored by Labour MP Rob Marris, and seeks to "enable competent adults who are terminally ill to choose to be provided with medically supervised assistance to end their own life".

It will be debated in the House of Commons on Friday.

It proposes licensing doctors to supply lethal drugs to terminally ill patients to enable them to die by suicide.

The British Medical Association and other bodies representing physicians are firmly opposed to the bill.

"Such a change would be contrary to the ethics of clinical practice, as the principal purpose of medicine is to improve patients' quality of life, not to foreshorten," says the BMA.

Those in favour of assisted suicide argue that it would allow people to choose to die with more dignity.

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