Sunday, 13 July 2014

Desmond Tutu becomes latest church leader to support right-to-die

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DESMOND Tutu has become the most recent religious leader to voice his support for assisted dying, just days ahead of a Lords debate on the issue.
The Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa, professed that he reveres "the sanctity of life – but not at any cost".

The Nobel peace laureate said that money would be better spent on treating and preserving newborns and the young, rather than prolonging a life with poor quality.

Writing in The Observer today, he asked: "But why is a life that is ending being prolonged? Why is money being spent in this way?

"It could be better spent on a mother giving birth to a baby, or an organ transplant needed by a young person.

"Money should be spent on those that are at the beginning or in full flow of their life.

"Of course, these are my personal opinions and not of my church."
He said: "I am coming to understand the importance of having a living will or advance directive, as some people call it.

"I do not want artificial feeding or to be on an artificial breathing machine – I don't want people to do their damnedest to keep me alive."

Archbishop Tutu also commented on the treatment of Nelson Mandela in his final years, calling it "disgraceful".

He recalled an incident when the late South African president, whom he referred to by his tribal name, was forced to appear on television with current president Jacob Zuma and deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa.

He said: "You could see Madiba was not fully there. He did not speak. He was not connecting. My friend was no longer himself.

"It was an affront to Madiba's dignity."

His comments come after the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey said he had changed his mind on the issue of assisted dying, after considering cases like that of locked-in syndrome sufferer Tony Nicklinson and "the reality of needless suffering".
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On Friday former Labour Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer's Bill on assisted dying, which proposes allowing doctors to prescribe a lethal dose to terminally ill patients judged to have less than six months to live, will come before the House of Lords for a second reading.

Despite several high-profile figures coming out in support of the Bill, Paralympic legend Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson has voiced concerns and labelling it "too vague".

She said: ""I do not want to see anyone suffer, but I think people make this assumption that they will be able to die at home with their friends and family around them.

"In reality, we do not know. It might be in a hospital, or we might have clinics and I am really uncomfortable with the thought that we might have 20, 25, even 30 clinics all over the UK.

"I am worried that there will be people, vulnerable people, who will think they have got no choice, who will be encouraged to choose assisted suicide when it is not really their choice.

"What we have to make laws for is to protect the vast majority of people in society and there are vulnerable people who just would not be protected and that is the biggest worry."

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