'... not just the premier Christian bioethics
institute in Britain, but one of the finest in the
world, Christian or secular'.
Most Rev. Anthony Fisher O.P.,
Bishop of Parramatta, Australia.
The Anscombe Centre (originally known as the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics) is a Roman Catholic academic institute that engages with the moral questions arising in clinical practice and biomedical research. It brings to bear on those questions principles of natural law, virtue ethics, and the teaching of the Catholic Church, and seeks to develop the implications of that teaching for emerging fields of practice. The Centre engages in scholarly dialogue with academics and practitioners of other traditions. It contributes to public policy debates as well as to debates and consultations within the Church. It runs educational programmes for, and gives advice to, Catholics and other interested healthcare professionals and biomedical scientists.
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The Anscombe Bioethics Centre welcomes the decision of MPs to reject the Assisted Dying (No.2) Bill by a majority of 330 votes to 118. The evidence from jurisdictions that have embraced physician assisted suicide or euthanasia clearly raises grave concerns about the impact of such legislation.
While Westminster had rejected this particular bill, the ethical and political debate is sure to continue and the Centre continues to support critical discussion on this important topic.
The topic of the 6th Annual Anscombe Memorial Lecture is therefore very timely.
Professor Joseph Boyle (University of Toronto)
‘Against “Assisted Dying”’
Tuesday 13th October at 4.30pm
St John's College, Oxford followed by a reception at Blackfriars, Oxford
The lecture is free but to reserve a place please mail Gwen McCourt firstname.lastname@example.org
GUIDE ON ASSISTED SUICIDE: The Anscombe Bioethics Centre has produced a [free] guide to the evidence on assisted suicide and euthanasia and two short briefing papers (see below).
This guide aims to help people assess the potential impact of proposed legislation such as the Assisted Dying (No. 2) Bill sponsored by Rob Marris MP which is due to be debated on 11 September 2015. The Bill would ‘enable competent adults who are terminally ill to choose to be provided with medically supervised assistance to end their own life’; that is to say, it would legalize a form of physician assisted suicide.
In response to this Bill, the Anscombe Bioethics Centre has produced ‘Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: A Guide to the Evidence’. Evidence from jurisdictions that have embraced physician assisted suicide or euthanasia shows that these practices are out of control with numbers of cases increasing year on year.
What are the Courts saying about assisted suicide?
At the request of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, John Finnis FBA, Emeritus Professor of Law and Legal Philosophy at Oxford University and Biolchini Family Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame du Lac, Indiana, has prepared a short briefing paper entitled ‘Allowing Assistance in Suicide: What are the Courts Saying?’ He has also made available the author’s corrected proofs of his Casenote to the key legal case Nicklinson v Director of Public Prosecutions. This Casenote was published in the Law Quarterly Review vol. 131 (January 2015), pp. 1 - 8.
The Centre has also produced a two-page briefing entitled ‘Eight Reasons not to legalize Physician Assisted Suicide’. David Albert Jones argues that legalizing physician assisted suicide would not address the needs of the dying but would threaten people with disabilities and those who are suicidal. Permitting healthcare professionals to ‘encourage or assist’ suicide would undermine key principles of law, medical ethics and palliative care.
This Anscombe Centre guide to the evidence and the briefing paper complement other material which is available in the ‘resources’ section of the website, and in particular the booklet on spiritual care of the dying and the papers in the topic-section on euthanasia.
It should be noticed that a very similar legislative proposal was debated in Scotland earlier this year. However, after considering the evidence, the Health and Sport Committee concluded that it was ‘not persuaded by the argument that the lack of certainty in the existing law on assisted suicide makes it desirable to legislate to permit assisted suicide… there are ways of responding to suffering (such as increased focus on palliative care and on supporting those with disabilities), which do not raise the kind of concerns about crossing a legal and ethical “Rubicon” that are raised by assisted suicide’. On 27 May 2015 that Bill was defeated in the Scottish Parliament by 82 votes to 36. Those who have concerns in relation to the legalization of assisted suicide in England and Wales (a change which would undoubtedly also have an impact on Scotland and Northern Ireland) should express these concerns to their MP well before the Bill is due to be debated in the House of Commons, which is 11 September 2015.