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Troubled by wedge driven into assisted-suicide law

19 August 2009


From Anne Lawlor

Sir, — For some years I was a member of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), but allowed my member­ship to lapse a considerable time ago. Whenever controversial issues have come up, I have wondered whether I was right to do so. However, the latest announcement by the Council of the RCN that the College will now take a “neutral” stand on euthanasia has made me feel that I am thankful that I have nothing whatsoever to do with it.

My husband died as a result of Alzheimer’s disease. For six years I nursed him at home, and attended him every day to feed, wash, and change his clothes, until he died in a care centre.

During that period it would have been very easy for me to have persuaded him to take a trip to his death in Switzerland. Had I or my children been so inclined, I have no doubt we would have been thankful to have the RCN turning its eyes away.

My children, who supported me throughout the whole of the ten years, would have been appalled at the idea of taking such an abusive attitude to their father. I call on nurses throughout the country to rise in outrage to oppose the Council’s high-handed decision, which was taken without, even, proper consultation. Nurses should demand that the matter is fully debated at the RCN annual conference.

51 Ramillies Road
Chiswick W4 1JW

From Bernard Cartwright

Sir, — Within the chaos in which people find themselves over the suffering of a loved one and assisted suicide, all sorts of things are understandable, but the question surely must be whether what is done is right. It seems as if good pastoral care, hospice treatment, and even the famous “Brompton cocktail” of palliative medicines are, simply, irrelevant.

The recent Law Lords ruling, which appears set to define the scope of assisted suicide abroad, and now possibly at home, too, is as perverse as it is illogical. Since the 1960s, English law has embraced the principle of “a life unworthy of life” through abortion and neo-natal euthanasia. With assisted suicide, another example of this trend of false compassion is being put before us.

Former Director of the Churches’ Council for Health and Healing
30 Castle Grove
Oldswinford, Stourbridge
West Midlands DY8 2HH

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