Church of England Synod rejects assisted suicide in overwhelming vote for the “sanctity of life” and better-funded palliative care

By Right to Life UK

The General Synod of the Church of England has voted overwhelmingly against assisted suicide legislation being introduced by the UK Government. “Sanctity of life is central to our understanding as Christians”, said the retired GP who called for the vote.

The General Synod, the legislative body of the Church of England, has confirmed its opposition to assisted suicide by a vote of 289 to 25 in favour of a motion requesting that the established Christian church in England confirm its opposition to assisted suicide legislation. There were 33 abstentions.

William Nye, secretary-general of the General Synod and the Church’s highest-ranking lay official, had recently stated that the Church of England was “adamant in its rejection” of any attempt to legalise assisted suicide, as reported by SPUC.

In its vote, the General Synod called on Government to uphold current legislation outlawing assisted suicide. The successful motion, brought by Dr. Simon Eyre, also called for better funding for palliative care.

Dr. Eyre explained that “hospices are suffering from a lack of funding” and that such poorly funded care was leading to calls for assisted suicide. “The response to this should be to improve palliative care rather than make changes to the Suicide Act.”

During the preceding Synod debate, Fiona MacMillan, a wheelchair user, said she feared that assisted suicide legislation would leave disabled people such as herself vulnerable. She cited the example of Canada, where it is “easier for disabled people to get assisted dying than assisted living”.

A SPUC spokesperson said: 

“SPUC welcomes this timely and decisive vote in favour of protecting vulnerable lives that would be put at risk by the introduction of assisted suicide legislation.

“Following a reasoned and evidence-based debate on this vital issue, the General Synod sent the Government a powerful message that simply cannot be ignored.

“As Baroness Meacher’s ill-considered and reckless bill proceeds, people of all faiths and political persuasion must speak out against such legislation and, instead, advocate better-funded care for the vulnerable – who deserve life, not death.”