Christians across Britain have been given a call to action by the Catholic Union over plans by the channel island of Jersey to legalise assisted dying. Approved in principle by Jersey politicians in 2021, the move would involve allowing some terminally ill adults to end their lives with medical supervision.
“For Christians listening across the British Isles, this is something that should concern us and that we should be engaged with”, commented spokesperson for the Catholic Union James Somerville-Meikle.
“What happens on the island of Jersey, although it's not part of the United Kingdom, it would be the first place in the British Isles to legalise assisted suicide”, he added.
According to the Catholic Union, a public consultation has revealed that people do not want to see medical professionals or care homes forced to facilitate the killing of patients.
Speaking to Premier Christian News, James Somerville-Meikle said “The vast majority of people, 85% of responses, don't think it is right that healthcare workers, doctors, nurses should be forced to assist in a person's death”.
The Catholic Union adds that 62% of responders to the Jersey consultation said that owners and operators of care homes should also be able to refuse assisted suicide on their premises. But Somerville-Meikle gave a warning that “as with abortion”, “it's very, very difficult to introduce conscientious objection.”
“At the moment, people are being presented with a false choice”, he said. “They've been told that we can legalise assisted suicide, but introduce safeguards. In reality, those safeguards are no safeguards at all.”
James Somerville-Meikle urged Christians on mainland Britain to show solidarity with fellow believers on the island of Jersey and “help them to make their case there”. The Catholic Union point out that though the consultation process is at an advanced stage, ministers on the island of Jersey have yet to draft the new law.
“ So we've still got a bit of time to make the argument that actually passing assisted suicide with safeguards simply isn't going to work in practice”, explained Somerville-Meikle.
“We need to go back to the drawing board. We need to focus again on palliative care, on ways of supporting those who are elderly and vulnerable, and not just passing a law that's going to make life difficult for some of the most vulnerable in society”, he said.