'... 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 responds to the introduction of a Private Member’s Bill that would legalize Physician Assisted Suicide.
The Assisted Dying (No. 2) Bill is a Private Member’s Bill sponsored by Rob Marris MP. It 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 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. Furthermore, 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.
This Anscombe Centre briefing complements 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 noted 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 on 11 September 2015.