Former Archbishop of Canterbury opposes UK’s Assisted Suicide Bill

Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury and Archbishop of Wales, has strongly denounced assisted suicide just days after his predecessor reiterated his support for the controversial practice.

In a statement submitted to the British Medical Journal, Lord Williams warned medics that a change in the law would lead to “overstrained families” and “overstretched medical resources” exerting pressure on many patients to take their lives by assisted suicide.

He questioned whether the progress and provision of palliative care in the UK could survive “overburdened budgets” when enabling the suicides of people who required nursing and hospice care became the cheaper option.

Meanwhile, a former chair of the Danish Council of Ethics has published a stinging attack on legalised euthanasia in the British Medical Journal.

While euthanasia is often described as the ultimate expression of autonomy Ole Hartling is deeply sceptical as, he says, the wish to die arises against a backdrop of desperation, a feeling of hopelessness, possibly a feeling of being superfluous.

“Thus, it is under these circumstances that the right to self-determination is exercised and the decision is made. Such a situation is a fragile basis for autonomy and an even more fragile basis for decision making. The choice regarding your own death is therefore completely different from most other choices usually associated with the concept of autonomy”.