Sunday, July 13, 2014

Nazir-Ali to Carey: Falconer Bill would not have helped Tony Nicklinson

In explaining his change of heart on the matter of 'Assisted Dying', Lord Carey wrote in the Mail that watching the appalling suffering of Tony Nicklinson was instrumental in his reflection. He said:
It was impossible not to be moved by his argument, especially when he described the horrific pain he has to endure every day. He was supported in this legal action by Jane Nicklinson, whose late husband suffered from the terrible locked-in syndrome after he suffered a stroke.

A previously active, sports-loving family man, Tony Nicklinson had been rendered absolutely powerless, vulnerable and isolated, an experience he found intolerable.
But speaking on the BBC's 'Sunday Morning Live', Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali astutely pointed out that the Falconer Bill restricts intervention except in those cases where the patient's condition is terminal, specifically with a six-month life expectation. And so Bishop Michael's good friend George, who he says is undeniably warm and compassionate, is also somewhat confused.

No one will deny that Tony Nicklinson suffered appallingly; his condition imposed an almost inhuman degradation upon him which, he felt, ought not to be endured by anyone. But his condition was not medically terminal: no doctor at any time gave the crucial 'six-month' prognosis. And so Lord Carey has been reflecting on a case which, in fact, demands more than Lord Falconer proposes.

'Sunday Morning Live' then interviewed a disabled man who argued passionately for his 'right to die', while also not himself suffering a condition which is terminal.

We see here (already) the purposeful conflation of 'Assisted Dying' with euthanasia, and a manifest confusion on behalf of some very senior and influential voices who really ought to know better. Indeed, it is the 'thin end of the wedge' and 'slippery slope' made manifest: Lord Carey is (unwittingly?) making the case for 'Assisted Dying' in all cases where the continuation of life is deemed to be somehow lacking in 'quality'. This is why Archbishop Justin Welby is absolutely right to say that the Bill is "mistaken and dangerous":
It would be very naive to think that many of the elderly people who are abused and neglected each year, as well as many severely disabled individuals, would not be put under pressure to end their lives if assisted suicide were permitted by law.

It would be equally naive to believe, as the Assisted Dying Bill suggests, that such pressure could be recognised in every instance by doctors given the task of assessing requests for assisted suicide. Abuse, coercion and intimidation can be slow instruments in the hands of the unscrupulous, creating pressure on vulnerable people who are encouraged to “do the decent thing”. Even where such pressure is not overt, the very presence of a law that permits assisted suicide on the terms proposed by Lord Falconer of Thoroton is bound to lead to sensitive individuals feeling that they ought to stop “being a burden to others”. What sort of society would we be creating if we were to allow this sword of Damocles to hang over the head of every vulnerable, terminally ill person in the country?


Blogger carl jacobs said...

A wise man once told me "Get your theology straight before the crisis. It's too late once the crisis has hit." By this he meant "Settle the moral principles of action in your mind before you need to apply them. That way you will have something to hold onto when holding on is difficult." We all face the same possibilities and we all face the same temptation to collapse under the weight of trial. So we build a strong framework of principle now that allows us to sustain against the emotion that attends what might come in the future.

Carey by his own admission has reversed this logic. He has cast aside principle for the sake of emotion, and in so doing he has established an ethic of empathy. He observes Person A and says to himself "No one should have to suffer like that." But the unstated premise is "I shouldn't have to suffer like that." For we quite naturally make ourselves the measure of suffering. We understand it by empathetically placing ourselves in the place of the one who suffers. At which point we establish our dread as the foundation of ethical behavior. But is our fear of pain and loss of dignity and loss of independence and the concomitant stack on human pride really how we should decide if men live or die?

The secular creed says that man is sovereign over his own life, but we know that our lives are not our own possession. We know that we are bought and paid for with a price. We know that all things have purpose within the Providence of God. We know that God is the sovereign who is free to ordain the course of a man's life as he so chooses. And yet we still demand the right to say "But not in this case." We want to qualify the sovereignty of God lest he require of us what we would rather he not require. It is an abject denial that all circumstances can have divine purpose. It is the establishment of the counsel of Job's wife: "Curse God and die."

We would call it mercy. But it is really a defiant boundary marker that says "Thus far and no further." Man has his pride after all.


13 July 2014 at 14:01  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

"..concomitant attack on human pride .."

13 July 2014 at 14:06  
Blogger Shadrach said...

Your Grace,
Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali is a very good man and as has been said here before, he should have been ++Bishop.

13 July 2014 at 14:20  
Blogger Jay Bee said...

The Assisted Dying Bill should be called the Assisted Suicide Bill for that is what it is. Maybe softening the name is simply a matter of Political Correctness but categorising it as Assisted Dying suggests to me that this a deliberate first stage towards widespread euthanasia.

Or maybe that should be spelt EUthanaisa. Have a look at the exponential growth of legally assisted deaths in Holland.

Where would it end in the UK? Default mode of death for cancer patients? Termination of the senile, demented, depressed, and disabled? Pills for the over 70's?
We really should not take a single step down this road.

13 July 2014 at 16:02  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Is it not astonishing that this whole issue was seemingly the result of the suffering of ONE MAN !

What have we become that we can legislate to cover EVERYTHING !!!

13 July 2014 at 16:06  
Blogger Len said...

Carl said;
'A wise man once told me "Get your theology straight before the crisis. It's too late once the crisis has hit.'

There is a wealth of wisdom in these words and something perhaps for us all to reflect on...

" The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."

The time is coming when all things will be shaken.

13 July 2014 at 16:54  
Blogger gentlemind said...

Inspector, Euthanasia can be seen as the ultimate in risk management by the State - it does not trust us to have a safe death, so must provide us with one.

I have a question about compassion!

Nurse A is prepared to kill patient A when patient A's pain is 9/10. Nurse B is prepared to kill patient B when patient B's pain is 6/10.

Which nurse shows the most compassion?

13 July 2014 at 17:02  
Blogger Simon Cooke said...

I am deeply disturbed - not as a christian or because of theology - about this Bill. It seems to me that it assumes goodness in humans, that there will never be a time when callous people conspire to kill off granny.

13 July 2014 at 17:15  
Blogger Sister Julian said...

There is a difference between thereby giving one's life and taking one's own life. Jesus Christ GAVE his life to save mankind. A parent will give their own life to protect a child, as the mother in the Alps murder did when she shielded her daughter to protect her from the gunman. A suicide TAKES his own life thereby giving pain to friends, relatives etc. Christ gave his life for others a suicide takes his own life for himself. For me there is the difference. Taking this to a (possibly) logical conclusion perhaps a terminally person may take their life to save loved ones from further pain but that action would still cause unimaginable hurt to all concerned. There is still and always will be only one who has the right to give or take life and that is God.

13 July 2014 at 17:17  
Blogger Oliver Nicholson said...

There is a very nasty book by two Americans called Droge and Tabor entitled A Noble Death which argues that the Early Christian martyrs were in fact perpetuating the old Roman/ Stoic practice of suicide. My unfavourite sentence in it goes something like "voluntary death is in fact one of the principles upon which the Church was founded". It has been quite influential among the more muddled sort of patristic scholar. The latest collection of Studia Patristica has a brief riposte entitled "What Makes a Voluntary Martyr".

13 July 2014 at 17:42  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Often, the use of humour is effective in making a valid point on serious topics. Do go along and visit Eccles Is Saved.His post on "Carey On Killing" is worth a read if you are could use some light relief.

13 July 2014 at 17:43  
Blogger Darter Noster said...

I advise people to look up the case of David Glass to understand why this is such a dangerous development.

David Glass, aged 17, a profoundly disabled teenager with severe learning disabilities, was admitted to hospital with a serious, but treatable lung infection. Instead of treating his infection the same way they would for any other patient, the doctors decided that his quality of life was terrible, due to his disability and his need for regular medical intervention. They told his parents they should let nature take its course, and put him on a morphine drip, which suppressed his labouring breathing even further.

His parents fought back, removing the morphine drip and blowing raspberries into his ears to keep him awake; they argued that they knew David was a happy boy, whatever his disabilities, better than the doctors who just saw him as a list of symptoms. They ended up scuffling with the medics who were trying to make sure David died, and eventually succeeded in taking him home, where another doctor gave him the antibiotics he needed and he recovered. David's relatives were subsequently imprisoned for assault, despite the judge admitting that their actions were the only thing that saved their son's life.

There have been many other similar cases, most prominently that of Baroness Jane Campbell, who kept herself awake for 48 hours straight after doctors slapped a DNR notice on her when she was admitted to hospital for a treatable problem not related to her disability. Her husband even rushed home to get the photo of her receiving a doctorate, in an attempt to prove that her life was worth saving.

Laws such as this codify and solidify the already prevalent assumptions of doctors and broader society that people with severe disabilities are not worth treating. If you believe someone's life to be inevitably intolerable, what's the point? But people are more than just a list of symptoms, and quality of life is subjective. These dangerous and discriminatory moves to place severely disabled people in a category where they can be disposed of legally must be opposed.

Many people with severe disabilities suffer depression, for various reasons, which is rarely treated. And is there any wonder, when services are cut, discrimination is entrenched, and society views them as pointless and pitiable? If a depressed severely disabled person asks to die, what effort will be made, as it would with a non-disabled person, to convince them that they have value and something to live for? Answer: none whatsoever, because society has already made up its mind.

His Grace readily accepts that Tony Nicklinson's condition was inhuman and degrading, as if that were an objective fact, but there are people living with similar disabilities who want to live and have everything to live for.

13 July 2014 at 17:53  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Whatever Parliament decides its role may be usurped by the Judiciary and 'Human Rights' legislation.

The Supreme Court recently ruled against Paul Lamb and Jane Nicklinson who were campaigning on the right-to-die.

The Supreme Court had been considering whether the legal ban on assisted suicide is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. It decided against by a seven-two majority.

However, five of the nine justices, a majority, concluded that the court had the "constitutional authority" to declare that a general prohibition on assisted suicide was incompatible with the human right to private and family life.
And two of those five said they would have made such a declaration.

Four justices said MPs were better placed to make such a compatibility assessment and urged them to do so.

Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, took heart, saying, " ... the Supreme Court has clearly indicated that it is only a matter of time before the law is reformed.

"If Parliament is unwilling to address the issue, then ultimately the courts will."

Don't you love democracy and the 'rule of law' at work?

From "judicial discretion", which allows the Crown Prosecution Service to sanction breaches of our law, to the Supreme Court claiming the right to declare this law incompatible with Human Rights legislation.

This situation isn't helped by the Established Church going all wobbly.

13 July 2014 at 19:51  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Cressida @ 17:43

"Carey On Killing"

A young Barbara Windsor starring as "the blonde bombshell" Rosie Harper - saying: "Saucy boy! Wait till I tell my bishop!"


13 July 2014 at 20:02  
Blogger Shadrach said...

Darter Noster wrote;

David's relatives were subsequently imprisoned for assault, despite the judge admitting that their actions were the only thing that saved their son's life.

Is what they call fighting for life?

BTW Who assaulted whom? The medics must have been obstructing the family and also the medics were assaulting the patient without the families consent. Attempted murder perhaps?

13 July 2014 at 21:11  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Good law is based on sound principles, principles that can be applied to the whole country, not on emotional reactions to individual cases, no matter how sad or difficult that particular case. Relieve suffering by all means, but we must honour God's clear commandment, "Thou shalt not kill".
It is absolutely essential that doctors are reserved for the purposes of preserving and improving life, not ending it before a person's time on this earth is truly finished.

13 July 2014 at 22:24  
Blogger Darter Noster said...

This is a link to Spuc's account of the David Glass case. I made one mistake in my summary - the judge did not mention David's relatives saving his life, even though they clearly did.

13 July 2014 at 22:31  
Blogger Chaconia said...

"It is absolutely essential that doctors are reserved for the purposes of preserving and improving life, not ending it before a person's time on this earth is truly finished."

But isn’t this a bit of a grey area? Doctors frequently hasten death by administering large doses of pain killers or sedatives to dying patients for humane reasons. And patients are also allowed to refuse resuscitation. And if assisting dying can be seen as a form of playing God, isn’t “striving officiously” to keep patients alive and not allowing nature to take its course doing a similar thing? We tend not to object in these extreme circumstances, and often because the patient is near to death anyway. But there certainly are cases where this is not so clear cut – where medical intervention may cut a person’s life short by weeks or months not hours – and then we feel, rightly, uncomfortable. I do not feel it would be possible to frame legislation which could adequately cover this wide range of circumstances – and therefore feel that each case needs to be judged individually. I also feel that doctors should continue to be allowed to ease patients’ pain and distress when they are very near the end by administering drugs which may have the side effect of hastening death.

13 July 2014 at 22:40  
Blogger Matt A said...

Romans 1 seems as relevant now as in the SSM crisis.

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

13 July 2014 at 22:49  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Just seen the German football team receiving their Iron Crosses...

Good show lads !

13 July 2014 at 23:07  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Benedict is celebrating; Francis is distraught. Jack understands they watched together and both wore replica shirts. Francis was going to auction his for the poor if Argentina were victorious.

At least there was no 'Hand of God' this evening.

14 July 2014 at 00:07  
Blogger Preacher said...

A belated but sincere welcome back Dr Cranmer.
If the assisted suicide bill is passed, the question arises, who will administer the fatal blow?.

A Doctor takes an oath to save life. An executioner ends it with official sanction.
A murderer takes it without legal approval.

Shame on George Carey for this public U-turn. The scriptures are quite clear, what part of "Thou shall not kill!" is in question?. Would he be prepared to bring the guilt of killing on to a doctor?.
What if the doctor refused on the grounds of conscience or faith? Would we be seeing G,P's struck off or disciplined as in the case of registrars who refuse to conduct same sex marriages, & others who stand on the law of God instead of the vain posturings of politicians & the religious liberals who lick their boots in an attempt to appeal to the public & the atheistic lost?.

The 'Christians' who speak out in support of this bill are clearly in the wrong occupation, as they ignore the fact that those poor souls, whether saved or not are dispatched to eternal judgement, ready or not! & the dispatchers face judgement for sending them!.

It's time to decide which flag one follows. Think carefully before you act.

14 July 2014 at 00:48  
Blogger Rambling Steve Appleseed said...

Long live Michael Nazir Ali.

I remember the passing of the 1967 abortion act and the 'hard cases' used to play on the heart strings in justification of it.

The 14 year old pregnant by rape. The worn out mother of 7 pregnant again by her domineering husband. The abandoned mother facing ruin. The 'battered babies' (as if violence against children has been diminished by abortion).

And then the reality of what actually happened. I was at an anti abortion protest march in London around 1973 which was addressed by a Labour MP (forget whom) who said 'I voted for abortion in difficult cases, I did not vote for 200,000 abortions a year.'

Ah, but you did chum, you did. And once you cross the line there's no going back.

14 July 2014 at 06:10  
Blogger Rambling Steve Appleseed said...


Thanks for the heads up on 'Eccles is saved'. Literally 'LOL' and bookmarked this great little blog.

14 July 2014 at 06:23  
Blogger Albert said...

Justin's piece on this is hilarious:

Were it [the argument for assisted suicide] to be presented by a candidate in a GSCE religious education exam, I should expect an examiner to take a dim view of it.

But wasn't that the sort of argument that George Carey used? If a former Archbishop of Canterbury isn't, in the view of the present Archbishop of Canterbury capable of putting a case that should pass a GCSE then I think something has gone wrong with the moral formation somewhere. And now we have Nazir-Ali pointing out further confusion on the part of George.

It's a great pity that these wise words of Justin Welby were over-shadowed over the weekend, by a GCSE fail. A pity too that these wise considerations of Nazir-Ali has not been more widely reported.

14 July 2014 at 09:28  
Blogger Jay Bee said...

Preacher @00:48

Excellent observations. I presume that for legal reasons doctors could only set everything up but it would be the patient who pressed the button or downed the pills. However in practice it would be just too easy to cross the line for the sake of expediency. Given the willingness of doctors to participate in abortions they are likely to see no ethical problems with assisted suicide; indeed the profession may now attract an intake of the wrong sort. “The doctor is on his rounds” becoming something one might rather not hear. How long before the elderly or infirm are refusing to go into hospital because there is a genuine fear of being needlessly bumped off by a lethal cocktail of cunning relatives and obliging physicians?

You are also right to emphasise that death is not the end of the soul and that eternal judgement is clearly taught in scripture. I remember one evangelist at an outreach mission telling his hearers “If you die in your sins you will certainly pay for them”. I can only hope that some were prepared to revisit their assumption that you die and that's it.

14 July 2014 at 10:37  
Blogger Albert said...

The irresponsibility of George Carey is further underscored by Boris Johnson writing in the Telegraph. Picking up on George's reference to double-effect, Boris (who clearly understands the principle no better than George) says that establishes the principle of euthanasia.

14 July 2014 at 11:21  
Blogger Preacher said...

Jay Bee @ 10.47.
I do hope that the many doctors who stand by the ethics of healing, not killing, will make their opposition very clear on this subject.
After all it is they who will be responsible for the deaths that will ensue.

However it should be remembered that the Nazi death camps had many 'doctors' whose lust for scientific research led to their total de-humanisation.

14 July 2014 at 12:00  
Blogger Clive Mitchell said...

Being slow of wit, I usually come to these things late. But a couple of observations. Firstly with regards the requirement for two Doctors to ‘sign off’ the approval only if the decease is terminal and they believe that the patient is likely to die within 6 months. In many ways this is the most tendentious part of the bill. When my Fathers cancer was diagnosed as terminal, he was told he may have 6 months, perhaps 2 years at most. But they couldn’t give him a more exact prognosis. It ended up being 8 months. What would have been the chances of getting 2 doctors to have signed the consent form if it had been available and he has so wished? A Doctor friend told me that beyond a certain limited time span, forecasts of life expectancy are deliberately broad as the Doctor really won’t be able to be any more specific. It seems to me that the choice of Six months is deliberate, ensuring that the right to die mission creep is written into the bill, but hidden from sight.

Secondly, if people want any proof as to how our opinion forming betters see this debate going, please read this article on Baroness Warnock in the Church of Scotland magazine.,d.ZGU

14 July 2014 at 12:08  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Glad you enjoyed "Eccles Is Saved"
Steve Apple Seeds.It was Jack who mentioned his blog initially.

Nice to know Jack that you have a genuine fondness for women and speak up in their defence seems so very normal but sadly not on this blog..I hope you are praying for that sad relic of the Stone Age, The Inspector .

14 July 2014 at 14:50  
Blogger Chaconia said...

"If you're demented, you're wasting people's lives – your family's lives – and you're wasting the resources of the National Health Service. …If somebody absolutely, desperately wants to die because they're a burden to their family, or the state, then I think they too should be allowed to die…I think that's the way the future will go, putting it rather brutally, you'd be licensing people to put others down." Baroness Warnock

Thanks Clive for the link. I think Baroness Warnock has done everyone a favour spelling it out in this way because this is where we will be heading. And while she speaks only of those who suffer from dementia -- what about anyone who needs round the clock care, who is mentally ill, mentally handicapped or physically very disabled and a burden on their families and who has no hope of getting any better? Will we want to be putting these down as well?

A debate about compassionate treatment for those who are in the process of dying has widened and the implications are frightening.

14 July 2014 at 15:37  
Blogger Albert said...


Firstly with regards the requirement for two Doctors to ‘sign off’ the approval

"Two doctors". This is the most tragically amusing and ironic part of the proposal. I seem to recall another piece of death legislation requiring two doctors. It's worked really well. It's effectively allowed abortion on the demand, and for speedier outcomes doctors were pre-signing abortion consent forms.

How is it that intelligent people fall for this silly stuff?

14 July 2014 at 16:40  
Blogger Albert said...

Speaking of unintelligent people, probably almost every adult in the country knows someone who was given six months and lasted much longer - sometimes years longer.

What will happen is that honest doctors will refuse to sign the forms, and people will go to dishonest doctors who will sign anything.

Good safeguard!

14 July 2014 at 16:42  
Blogger Sister Julian said...

Leave the Inspector alone! Can you not recognise humour or winding you up?

14 July 2014 at 16:46  
Blogger Clive Mitchell said...

Albert these are safeguards designed not to protect but to deceive. To make the unpalatable palatable !!

14 July 2014 at 17:26  
Blogger Albert said...


Yes, but they clearly think very little of the people they want to deceive that the safeguard is the same safeguard that has so publicly failed with abortion.

The whole thing is deceitful. They call it assisted dying. What they mean is assisted suicide.

14 July 2014 at 17:31  
Blogger Clive Mitchell said...

Ah but you see it has worked once already. So why not again! All they care about is the result.

14 July 2014 at 17:45  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Of course Jack has a genuine fondness for women - just not the feminist types who want ordination. Within the Inspectors ridicule there lurks elements of truth. Jack believes he's just ever so slightly afraid of your sex.

Sister Julian
"Leave the Inspector alone! Can you not recognise humour or winding you up?"

Jack is fond of the Inspector and once thought that too. However, stick around a little while and you'll see he means what he says about women, although he coats his remarks in humour.

14 July 2014 at 17:48  
Blogger Clive Mitchell said...

One last thought the Doctors willing to be part of this process will be self selecting, I think the difficulty will be finding a doctor in these circumstances unwilling to sign the death warrant!

14 July 2014 at 17:59  
Blogger Albert said...


What will happen is that doctors will eventually lose any conscience opt out.

It only takes time.

14 July 2014 at 18:49  
Blogger Clive Mitchell said...

Albert unhappily you are right.

14 July 2014 at 19:16  

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