Sir, Lord Joffe seems to be suggesting that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) should disregard the views of people with religious beliefs who respond to his consultation on assisted suicide. It seems that the euthanasia lobby, which Lord Joffe represents, is now suggesting that if you belong to a faith community, your views should be of less account than those of others. I trust that the DPP will disregard Lord Joffe and give proper consideration to the views of all British citizens. To appeal solely to opinion polls sponsored by campaigning groups is overly simplistic. Assisting suicide is a serious matter and legalisation is a complex question that does not lend itself to simple yes/no questions.
This issue is far more about public safety than personal faith. Lord Joffe has been in the House of Lords on every occasion in the past six years when proposals to change the law have been debated and will have seen that most of those who spoke and voted against changing the law were not arguing from a faith basis but from a concern that such proposals were simply dangerous for the population at large and particularly for the sick, the disabled and other vulnerable people. It is disingenuous to imply that most opposition to his proposals is faith-based. He should instead be addressing the serious charge that his so-called proposed safeguards are illusory.
The DPP opposed the publication of guidelines for prosecution of assisted suicide for reasons that should be obvious. We don’t tell people how much they can steal without being prosecuted for theft or how much injury they can inflict without being prosecuted for assault, so why should we treat assisted suicide any differently? Having been overridden by the law lords, the
DPP has attempted to meet the near-impossible remit given to him without inadvertently encouraging the belief that in some circumstances assisting suicide can be done with impunity. But I am sure it will come as no surprise to him to hear that many people see his interim guidelines falling short of this objective and in need of revision.
That the euthanasia lobby sees them as a “breakthrough” tells us as much about their real agenda as it does about the well-publicised deficiencies of the guidelines themselves.
Dr Peter Saunders
Director, Care Not Killing Alliance
Link to the article in the Times online: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/letters/article6959330.ece
Saunders is correct. People with disabilities understand all too well that opposing assisted suicide is based on their personal safety.