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Bishops brief parishes on assisted dying as debate gathers pace
24 February 2014 13:18 by Liz Dodd

The Church is to step up its campaign against the legalisation of assisted dying by sending leaflets to every parish in the country.

Sense and Nonsense on ‘Assisted Dying’ lists the Church’s answers to common questions on the subject.

The document’s circulation coincides with the passage through Parliament of a private member’s bill tabled by the former Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, which seeks to legalise assisted dying. The bill has had its first reading in the House of Lords, and it is due to have a second reading this spring.

But the bishops of England and Wales said that Catholics should be fully briefed on church teaching around the issue as it becomes more prominent, citing as examples Belgium’s recent decision to legalise euthanasia for children.

The leaflet warns that legalising assisted dying could put vulnerable people at risk and would be open to abuse.

“Some terminally ill people might feel under pressure to end their lives … Others might wish to do so as a result of depression, a common feature of terminal illness. A ‘right to die’ could become a 'duty to die',” it argues.

But the charity Dignity in Dying, which is campaigning for a change in the law, said that the Q&A was unhelpful and inaccurate.

Chief Executive Sarah Wootton added that the majority of Catholics did support assisted dying, citing a YouGov survey from 2013.