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Reuters
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Reuters
World News

Legalising assisted dying supported by majority of religious people, poll finds

by Kelly Valencia

The majority of people who identified as religious in England and Wales support legalising assisted dying, according to new figures by the pro-change group Dignity in Dying.

The poll, which surveyed over a thousand people over the summer, found that 68 per cent of those who belonged to a religion - including Judaism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity - would support a change in the law.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, a long-time supporter of change, said: "It is no surprise to me that large numbers of Christians would support a compassionate assisted dying law in this country.

"One of the key themes of the Gospels is love for our fellow human beings. Doing whatever we can to relieve needless suffering and bring peace is a profoundly Christian act.

"It is my greatest hope that, after many years of delay, lawmakers will now finally grasp this issue and craft a new settlement for dying people that provides the compassion and kindness that so many in this country would like to see."

However, Dr Mark Pickering, CEO of the Christian Medical Fellowship, told Premier he is sceptical of the poll's findings.

“Much of the campaign, sadly, around changing the law focuses on fear: you could have terrible pain, you could have terrible suffering, wouldn't you want the choice for you and your loved one, when actually the situations that can't be significantly helped by good palliative care are very small.

“There are very few cases where you can't make a big difference by good end-of-life care. And so much of what is talked about as dignity is actually what we call autonomy. It is the idea that I should be in charge of my life and my death.

"We know from the Bible that actually giving people too much autonomy...it's what the Bible calls sin, isn't it?”

Several Members of Parliament have argued in favour of bringing the debate to parliament with the latest being Social Care Minister Helen Whately.

A committee on assisted dying is expected to publish a report later making the case for a vote in the Houses of Parliament as it currently is banned in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

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