Advisor to Archbishop says mercy killing may be OK -16/01/05
A senior adviser to the Archbishop of Canterbury has said that there is a ‘very strong compassionate case’ for mercy killing, reports the Sunday Telegraph.
Canon Robin Gill, a professor of modern theology at the University of Kent, insisted that people who help terminally ill relatives who are in great pain to end their lives should not be prosecuted, the newspaper has said.
The report comes after a retired policeman who killed his terminally ill wife received a nine months’ sentence suspended for two years, with a supervision order, at the Old Bailey on Friday.
The reporting by the newspaper may however be treated with caution, following the newspaper’s false claim two weeks ago that the tsunami disaster had made the Archbishop doubt whether God existed…’
The newspaper is now suggesting that Canon Robin Gill outlined what he felt was a ‘very strong compassionate case’ for mercy killing, by pointing to the case of Diane Pretty, who was terminally ill with motor neurone disease and fought a high-profile but unsuccessful campaign for the right to be helped to die.
Prof Gill reportedly said; “There is a very strong compassionate case for voluntary euthanasia. In certain cases, such as that which involved Diane Pretty, there is an overwhelming case for it.”
Last week, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, sent Prof Gill to a parliamentary committee concerning Lord Joffe’s private member’s Bill on assisted dying for the terminally ill, the paper reports.
Prof Gill is quoted as saying: “I don’t know what the Archbishop thinks about this issue but I believe that people should not be prosecuted when they help someone die in this country, nor should they be prosecuted if they travel abroad to help family members die in countries with different laws.”
The Archbishop is however has been a member and supporter of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) a pro-life group which actively campaigns against moves to legalise euthanasia.
The comments were welcomed by groups campaigning for a change in the law on euthanasia reports the newspaper, who saw them as evidence that the Church of England was softening its attitude towards euthanasia.
“The archbishop’s choice of Prof Gill represents a willingness to enter into a more constructive dialogue than before about this important issue. We hope that it will encourage other members of the clergy to speak out in support,” said Deborah Annetts, the chief executive of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society.
Anglican bishops agreed that withholding excessive medical treatment when there is no “reasonable prospect of recovery was consistent with Christian principals” at the 1998 Lambeth conference.