From the Rt Revd the Lord Carey of Clifton
Sir, - Professor Nigel Biggar's helpful article on assisted
dying has, I believe, now been overtaken by events (Comment, 31 October).
Professor Biggar concedes that it may not always be wrong to take
one's own life. Indeed, he even recognises that in extreme cases
pain is so severe that a patient must be sedated to the point of
unconsciousness, and that the implication of double effect is that
doctors hasten death out of sight.
Lord Pannick's amendment to the Falconer Bill surely addresses
Professor Biggar's substantial concern? The introduction of
judicial oversight would bring another welcome layer of protection
to vulnerable people.
Finally, his arguments about the slippery slope are addressed by
looking at Oregon with a law similar to Lord Falconer's rather than
the very different framework in Holland and Belgium. Oregon has had
an assisted-dying law for nearly two decades, and no serious
attempt has been made there to extend provision. The Oregon Hospice
Association, which opposed assisted dying, now concurs that there
is no evidence that Oregon's law has undermined palliative care or
harmed vulnerable people. The law you enact is the law you get.
CAREY OF CLIFTON
House of Lords
London SW1A 0PW