New Event: ‘Assisted Dying: eugenics, euthanasia, and medicine’ (Wednesday 17th November, 5pm-6:30pm)

In order to look to the future it is necessary to acknowledge the past. Universities and other institutions are beginning to do this with the troubled history of eugenics. A new event organised by the University of London Catholic Chaplaincy, and co-sponsored by the University Jewish Chaplaincy and the Anscombe Bioethics Centre event places the issue of assisted dying or euthanasia in the context of that history.

This event will happen via Zoom. You can see full details in our Upcoming Events section on the right of this page, and register for attendance here.

It was not only in Nazi Germany but also in England and the United States that euthanasia was promoted for the same reasons as eugenics, the characterising of some citizens as a burden on the state. The current debate over assisted dying is framed very differently but similar concerns about equality and vulnerability remain. This is not only a faith issue but it is one that has had an impact on religious minorities in the past. Our hope is that interfaith discussion can help illuminate the debate over “assisted dying” and in this way contribute to the common good of society.

Speakers (N.B. All speakers will be speaking in a personal capacity. They will be speaking from a religious perspective but not as representatives of any institutions or organisations to which they are affiliated.):

• Rabbi Dr Moshe Freedman is Rabbi, New West End Synagogue, London and Jewish Chaplain to the Canary Wharf Multifaith Chaplaincy. He is also a member of the Moral and Ethical Advisory Group (MEAG), which provides independent advice to the UK government on moral, ethical and faith considerations on health and social care related issues. He has a PhD in medical physics and has recently published, with Dr Aryeh Greenberg, a Rapid Response to a BMJ article on religious views on assisted dying.

• Prof. David Albert Jones is Director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre. He also is Professor of Bioethics at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. His DPhil from Oxford was on the theology of death and dying. He is co-editor, with Prof Chris Gastmans and Dr Calum MacKellar, of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Lessons from Belgium (Cambridge University Press, 2017). The Anscombe Centre has recently launched a series of briefing papers on euthanasia and assisted suicide.

• Prof. David Katz, Emeritus Professor of Immunopathology at University College, London, has provided advice within the Jewish community about medical and research issues, both scientific and ethical. He chaired fitness to practice panels for many years.

• Rev. Dr Philip Miller is Senior Catholic Chaplain for the universities in the Archdiocese of Westminster. He did his own university studies in Natural Sciences at Cambridge, and then completed a PhD in radio-astronomy at the Cavendish Laboratory. As well as his new post as Senior Chaplain, he has a number of other responsibilities in Westminster Diocese, including sitting on the Sick & Retired Priests’ Committee, and being Co-ordinator of the Ethnic Chaplains.

• Mohamed Omer MBE is Chair of Redbridge Faith Forum. He is Board Member for External Affairs at Gardens of Peace, the largest dedicated Muslim Cemetery in the United Kingdom. He is also a member of the Moral and Ethical Advisory Group (MEAG).

• Prof. Daniel Sulmasy is Director of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Senior Research Scholar at the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics and Andre Hellegers Professor of Biomedical Ethics, with co-appointments in the Departments of Philosophy and Medicine at Georgetown. He has written extensively on end of life ethics and is co-editor, with Dr Sheldon Rubenfeld, of Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia Before, During, and After the Holocaust (Rowman and Littlefield, 2021).

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