‘It is cheaper to help people die rather than support them to live’

Lord Carey: He may be demonstrating the amount of thought he has given to what unscrupulous people will do with his "change of heart".

Lord Carey: He may be demonstrating the amount of thought he has given to what unscrupulous people will do with his “change of heart”.

A “change of heart” by a former Archbishop of Canterbury over ‘assisted dying’ has dismayed at least one campaigner for the rights of people with disabilities.

Mo Stewart has been researching and reporting what she describes as the “atrocities” against the chronically sick and disabled in the UK for the last four years. She said Lord Carey’s decision to support legislation that would make it legal for people in England and Wales to receive help to end their lives would “play right into the hands of this very, very dangerous government”.

Justifying his change of position, Lord Carey said: “Today we face a central paradox. In strictly observing the sanctity of life, the Church could now actually be promoting anguish and pain, the very opposite of a Christian message of hope.

“The old philosophical certainties have collapsed in the face of the reality of needless suffering.”

The Assisted Dying Bill, tabled by Labour’s Lord Falconer, would apply to people with less than six months to live. Two doctors would have to independently confirm the patient was terminally ill and had reached their own, informed decision to die.

But Mo Stewart warned that the proposed legislation, to be debated in the House of Lords on Friday, would be subject to ‘function creep’, with unscrupulous authorities taking advantage of people with depression in order to relieve themselves of the financial burden of paying for their care.

“If this law is granted, what will be deemed a possibility for the few will, very quickly I fear, become the expected for the many,” she wrote in a letter to Lord Carey which she has kindly provided to Vox Political.

“It’s cheaper to help people to die rather than support them to live.

“There is a catalogue of evidence demonstrating that, in those countries where assisted dying is permitted, very often those taking their own lives are suffering from a clinical depression and leave our world to resist the perception that they are a burden to loved ones.

“I am stunned that you would use your voice to try to permit this to happen in the UK.”

She pointed out that medicine is an inexact science and policy changes such as this could have an enormous detrimental impact: “My own webmaster, who is now desperately ill with possibly only weeks to live, was advised he had less than six months to live over four years ago.

“Until very recently, he still enjoyed a high quality of life with his wife, family and friends; a life that could have been removed four years ago” had the Assisted Dying Bill been law at that time.

“What this debate is demonstrating is the failure of guaranteed high quality palliative care in the UK, that makes those with a life-limiting diagnosis feel that self termination is a reasonable solution,” she warned.

“If palliative care was at the peak of quality and access then there would be no need to ever consider such a Bill for this country, as those who wish to access self termination are usually living in fear of the possible physical suffering they may need to endure. This is a highway to clinical depression when quality of life is deemed to have disappeared with diagnosis.”

The current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has described the Bill as “mistaken and dangerous” and Mo said she believed he had explained the dangers well.

He said: “This is not scaremongering. I know of health professionals who are already concerned by the ways in which their clients have suggestions ‘to go to Switzerland’ whispered in their ears by relatives weary of caring for them and exasperated by seeing their inheritances dwindle through care costs.

“I have received letters from both disabled individuals and their carers, deeply concerned by the pressure that Lord Falconer’s bill could put them under if it became law.”

Mo Stewart’s letter concludes: “In the real world, this Bill – if passed – would, I have no doubt, lead to abuses where some were actively persuaded to self terminate for the convenience, and possibly the inheritance, of others.

“It’s really not a very long way away from an assisted dying bill to an assisted suicide bill.”

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28 thoughts on “‘It is cheaper to help people die rather than support them to live’

  1. Catherine Cooper

    I believe that every one should have the right to end their own lives and that neither State nor Church should be able to stop this. My life belongs to me. I am a retired nurse and have nursed many terminally ill patients and I know that it is impossible to prevent all pain and discomfort. Terminally ill people who are unable to directly take their own lives need the help and support of a doctor to accomplish this. Every time this matter is discussed the people against assisted dying say that it will lead to enforced deaths. Where is their proof? What right do they have to prevent very ill people from ending their lives? No, it is time to look at this problem and help the terminally ill to be free from pain, lack of dignity and discomfort.

    1. Mike Sivier

      It is very hard to find proof that medical professionals have abused their trust by putting people to death who might otherwise have lived, because members of the public with knowledge of such matters are never present when these events are likely to happen.
      That being said, I know of at least one suspicious incident in my own family and I am sure we are not alone (the person involved had not given any indication that he wished to pass on).
      In a perfect world, the proposal would be worth discussing, at the very least. However, we live in a very imperfect country with an extremely irresponsible government and a health service that is rapidly being converted to run for purposes of making money rather than healthcare. In these conditions, it seems inappropriate to have this conversation.

      1. Jacqueline Hughes

        We will not move any nearer to a better world if we do not discuss this proposal. I am equally afraid that a health service converted into a money making machine will seek, against a patient’s expressed wish for termination, to extend the life of someone suffering constant pain that cannot be alleviated.

      2. Mike Sivier

        The way the system is currently set up, it is continuing to pay for a patient’s care that costs the provider money, therefore profit-making health companies will want to terminate these patients.

      3. Paul Winkler

        Mike, I often agree with your views. And you’re certainly spot-on about this government. But on this issue you’re up a gum tree.

        There’s far more evidence that people are being forced to live in hopelessness and pain because of commentators like yourself and the current Archbishop of Canterbury. What you are peddling IS “scaremongering”, and I consider your citation of a single case against hundreds, if not thousands of well-documented cases, to be anti-science and anti-humane. What is cruel and unusual is forcing people to travel to Switzerland to obtain fair treatment at their own expense.

        Should this rotten government actually take any steps to put people to death against their will, I have no doubt whatsoever that most non-politicians would become whistleblowers and reveal the government’s crimes. People are at heart, good and honest. Especially health practitioners. That’s precisely why it has taken so many long, tortured years for this debate to surface due to the health authorities’ reluctance to consider the possibility of assisted suicide/assisted death.

        Come down on the side of science and humane empathy, and let humans have the same considerate treatment as we allow our pets! I am sorry your relative was murdered the way he or she was, but that doesn’t mean you should consider our entire society as murderers. That would be painting the whole world with the same brush.

      4. Mike Sivier

        Who said my relative was murdered? I didn’t. I said it was suspicious.
        Nor was I setting one example against many. I said that was one example within my own family, and speculated that readers might know of similar situations within theirs.
        You have made a few too many assumptions, I think – too willing to find fault with a position you decided I had taken.
        I want a discussion on this subject. That means I want considered opinions from people on both sides of it – not knee-jerk reactions, please.

  2. stilloaks

    Reblogged this on Still Oaks and commented:
    This is a highly emotive issue for many people.
    In my own and others opinion it is the beginning of a terrifyingly slippery slope.

    Switzerland already have euthanasia (assisted suicide) laws in place, as do a number of states in America, also Holland and Luxembourg, with France actively considering it and Quebec is on the verge of legalising euthanasia.
    I feel that one of the best indicators as to where such euthanasia laws if passed in this country, might lead, can be found in Belgium.

    The Belgian Act on Euthanasia was passed on May, 28th 2002.
    Since the first year after that Act was passed Belgium has seen an incredible 500% increase in the number of assisted suicides.

    The original “safeguards” put in place under the 2002 Act, appear to already have been circumvented. For example, a 2010 report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal noted that 32% of euthanasia deaths in one area of Belgium were carried out without the patient ever having requested it.
    Some of the cases where the original safeguards have been clearly ignored include….
    In 2012 two deaf brothers who were both experiencing deteriorating eyesight were euthanised.
    In another instance a 44 year-old whose sex reassignment operation had gone wrong was killed and a severely depressed woman who suffered sexual abuse by her psychiatrist chose euthanasia over living.

    The acceptance by the Belgian people of medicalised killing has also resulted in a Belgian first: The developing of a medical protocol for harvesting the organs of euthanized patients, twisting the act of killing into an altruistic act of selfless mercy, and is considered standard medical treatment.

    Then in February 2014 the Belgians extended their euthanasia laws to include children.
    What horrors may come of that new legislation I shudder to imagine.

  3. HomerJS

    When I saw the headline ‘It is cheaper to help people die rather than support them to live’, I thought it was another article on the DWP.

    But then again, perhaps there might be a connection somewhere along the line . . .

  4. John

    I support the right of individuals to decide when to end their lives.
    Of course, this can only apply when those individuals are freely able to make the decision themselves.
    There should be a legal duty on at least two doctors to satisfy themselves that the person wanting termination of their own life is making the decision free from any form of coercion.
    From what I have read about this subject in US states and other EU state, the evidence indicates that people live longer lives because they know they have the option of ending it when they wish to. It also enhances their quality of life because they know they can end their life if they find it becoming unendurable.
    It is understandable and possibly commendable to view the attitude of the state with suspicion on this matter, particularly when we see the constant drive to privatise our public services but this should not deter us from permitting individuals at least the option of making a life-ending decision which affects them and their own lives predominantly.
    In my case, I have informed my relatives of my views so if the law is changed they know I will exercise my individual choice in this matter at some future stage should I deem it necessary for me.

  5. Thomas M

    Whilst if people really want to die they should be allowed to, I wouldn’t put it past this government to make euthanasia mandatory for the disabled, given the chance. Or at least to try and force them into it by making their lives as unpleasant as possible.

  6. Samuel Miller (@Hephaestus7)

    Euthanasia is increasingly viewed by debt-ridden, industrialized nations as a panacea to their aging and infirm populations. Don’t be fooled by Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill. Euthanasia is being introduced under the guise of compassion and choice. It is a cost-saving mechanism, designed to save the British government monies in benefits provision and elderly care costs.

    Have we forgotten so soon the lessons of the Liverpool Care Pathway scandal?

  7. anon

    This from the man who single-handedly destroyed the Church of England, downgrading it from the faith of the nation to happy-clappy lunatic fringe.

    Don’t-Carey’s view IS NOT A CHRISTIAN VIEW. Just this Sunday, Catholic churches around the country have been asking parishioners to email a Peer to ask them to vote against the bill. Links here:
    http://www.catholicchurch.org.uk/Home/Featured/Assisted-Dying-Bill/Contact-a-Peer

    For a mainstrain Christian discussion on this (and you don’t have to be Catholic) visit http://www.catholicchurch.org.uk/assisted-dying-bill

  8. Pingback: 'It is cheaper to help people die rather than s...

  9. anon

    Hitler, the Nazis, and Assisted Suicide

    People in favor of assisted suicide pose four compelling arguments:

    1. Compassion – Assisted suicide is a matter of compassion. No one should suffer needlessly when a doctor’s injection ends it quickly.

    2. Dignity – Euthanasia is necessary to preserve the dignity of a dying person.

    3. Better good of society – End-of-life care is expensive and drains the health care system. Sometimes we have to make hard choices for the greater good.

    4. Checks and Balances – Euthanasia can be carefully controlled through a system of checks and balances.

    These four arguments are hard to refute, which is why the Nazi leadership could present them so effectively in the era before World War II.

    These four arguments enabled Adolph Hitler and his followers to convince German doctors to perform euthanasia on first the terminally ill, then retarded and deformed babies, then institutionalized children, and then insane, retarded, sick and otherwise incapacitated adults

    Read more…
    http://www.thecompassionatechoice.com/articles/hitler-the-nazis-and-assisted-suicide-2/

  10. jaypot2012

    I believe that those who are suffering from a disease that is taking away their dignity and is giving that person severe uncontrollable pain, should be allowed to end their lives if they are fully compos mentis – no-one else should be able to give the word that a person is ready to die, NO-ONE, except the patient themselves.
    I am truly worried about the “act” then being extended to those who are taking up space in hospitals and are bed blockers would be given an injection to end their life. That’s the elderly, those in comas, those who have dementia and so on and so forth.
    Next thing you know they’ll come for the disabled and long term sick and we won’t have a choice, we’ll just be put down like stray dogs.
    As for the former Archbishop – that’s why he is the former and not the Archbishop now – he may have fought for the case against this bill then, but to change his mind all of a sudden? Something definitely stinks and he should be investigated as to why his mind has been changed, or who or what changed it for him?!?
    Carey is no christian if he can allow this to happen – he should be removed from the CoE immediately.

  11. jaypot2012

    Reblogged this on Jay's Journal and commented:
    My reasons against this are clear – the bill will eventually be worded to include dementia and other types of age related diseases, bed blockers etc – after that, it will be the disabled and long term sick and then the elderly…

  12. Peter John Farrington

    One key point Mike and others often miss is that all the cited “atrocities” and/or suspicious situations anecdotal evidence purports to substantiate regarding the UK have all occurred under the current laws on suicide.

    For me it’s a simply issue. For any person in the UK who is capable of committing suicide unaided since 1960 no law is being broken should they take their own life, but somehow if I am so disabled as to be unable to carry out the act without assistance a crime would potentially be committed. If anything this threatens to shorten my life if I am forced to act before I lose such capacity.

    The reality is that the only way appropriate safeguards against the various kinds of situations feared by those who oppose this change to law happening will be if such a law IS passed and those safeguards put in place as part of the process not least as all wishing to make use of such a law would immediately come under intense scrutiny by the authorities and concerned relatives and/or friends would also be more aware thus providing even more protection for those not willing and coerced participants and additional help and comfort to those who are.

      1. Peter John Farrington

        My position is that we need a change in the law to allow those who wish to do so to seek assistance to die not least as it simply puts them on an equal footing under the law as those able to complete the act without assistance.

        We need a change in the law that clarifies and regulates just when and how individuals should be allowed to exercise the right to die and with that define exactly what can and can not be done by others, who they have freely nominated, in connection with assisting them in the exercise of that right.

        Having set up such a framework anything that falls outside its provisions would then clearly be illegal and as such subject to the full weight of the law, as would deliberately seeking to bring about such an exercise of a right to die by someone else for any personal gain and/or advantage.

  13. John

    This is not Nazi Germany. Eugenics is not government policy in the UK.
    I am in no doubt that the Tories want to privatise everything in sight and reduce government expenditures in a big way so – like Thatcher before them – they will have the funds to offer tax cuts as bribes to voters.
    That is their way of getting – and keeping – power.
    However, I would not go from there to asserting that they are out to extinguish particular groups within our society.
    Everyone should keep their remarks relevant and reasonable.
    To do otherwise risks being written off as extremist cranks, which does their cause no good at all.

  14. foodbankhelper

    I agree with Mike on this one. This is a time for extreme caution. Yes, I think we do need a debate on this, but we’re aware of the policy convergence in health and social care and welfare, which is stripping central and local government budgets to the bone. The result is that life is being made very much harder for the most vulnerable. The message that’s being conveyed is that the sick – for example those in receipt of employment and support allowance – are a drain on resources. To what extent could the terminally ill be starting to internalise a feeling that they are unwanted? English acute hospitals are full of frail elderly people who want to go home – maybe to die. But often they don’t have the support available in the community to enable them to do this. Neither do they always have advocates to protect them – people who can reach agreement with doctors on their relatives’ behalf about whether they are of sound mind etc. Very sick elderly people are often depressed and might reach a different conclusion if that depression was also addressed. Often the sick elderly are under the care of the most inexperienced young doctors. Palliative care at its best in the NHS and in hospices is of a good standard, but the reality is very patchy. Palliative care teams in many hospitals are overstretched currently. And this is even before we start talking about moves to privatise cancer care in England http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jul/02/cancer-care-nhs-outsourcing-ccgs-unison-virgin, and how outsourcing and the priorities of private healthcare insurers could feasibly play into the motivations for promoting the Assisted Dying Bill at this very time. It’s a horribly difficult topic – the most difficult one we humans have to grapple with. Some people, even with very good palliative care, still suffer dreadfully. There are no easy answers, but are there also too many troubling questions around this proposed legislation for us to be comfortable that decisions would always be made in the best interests of the dying person.

  15. jeffrey davies

    god help us life is life without which deciding when to travel isn’t ours to make but allowing this to pass will have those jackboots outside your door ready for your send off by those who state you are costing to much to keep please take these pills bye bye yet you say im in pain but a lot of us are daily but popping off nah leave that to fate otherwise you will get that solent green before you now it you are eating your neighbour jeff3

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