A leading woman priest in the Church of England has spoken out in favour changing the law to allow assisted dying.
Canon Rosie Harper, vicar of Great Missenden and chaplain to the Bishop of Buckingham, said she supports Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill which receives its second reading in the House of Lords on July 18.
Her position directly contradicts that of the Church of England, which has argued consistently for no change in the law.
Canon Harper was one of three faith leaders backing the Bill during a debate on the issue hosted by Interfaith Leaders for Dignity in Dying in Westminster, London yesterday.
She described the assisted death of her uncle with Dignitas in Switzerland. “My uncle had a beautiful death, with his family around him – good music, good wine, and a pain-free end. The days that would have followed as he struggled through the end stage of a brain tumour would have been terrible. He had no choice about dying. He did have choice about the manner of his death. That’s all this bill is offering.”
She said she could not believe in a God who would require “the most extreme suffering” simply in order to shore up “her” sovereignty.
“Nor do I believe that holding on to life at all costs is the uncontested goal of humanity. The crucifixion itself demonstrates that there are higher goals than the preservation of one’s life. John 15.3: There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
She argued that a God who offered “freedom of will” would not insist on “extreme suffering” at the end of life when there was a different, better way. Addressing the arguments against, she continued: “First there is the contention that pain can always be controlled. We know that simply is not the case. Anyway – in what way is there value in a person being technically still alive if they are sedated to the point of oblivion?
“Secondly, what this bill proposes is infinitely more honourable than what routinely happens now when a dying person is gradually and cruelly starved to death.
She also said in countries where it is already legal, such as Switzerland, “grannies are not being bumped off, and both old people’s homes and hospice care is of a far better standard than anything we offer over here.”
The bill would be for a small number of people but offer comfort for a larger number of people. “It is loving, kind and honourable, all good Christian and indeed human values.”
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SOURCE: Christian Today