JEREMY CORBYN, the left-wing MP in Labour’s leadership race, has spoken out against assisted dying ahead of a landmark parliamentary vote on the issue.
Mr Corbyn, the current favourite to become Labour leader, said that the Marris Bill, which proposes to allow terminally ill people to end their lives with medical assistance, would be open to abuse because “not everyone is nice”.
He added: “This bill would put the most vulnerable people at risk.”
He made the remarks on Sunday at St Mellitus Church in Tollington Park, north London, which he visited at the invitation of the Catholic peace activist Bruce Kent.
Mr Corbyn’s remarks echo comments he made to the Islington Gazette in March.
Asked then how he would vote on assisted dying, he said: “I don’t believe we should be talking about assisted dying until our social care and health care systems have been improved sufficiently with focus on the sick and elderly, especially since we are living in an age where longevity is on the rise and so many more elderly people are in need of health care.”
The bill on assisted dying has been put forward by Labour MP Rob Marris, who topped the ballot for private members’ bills. The vote on the bill’s second reading on Friday 11 September will be the first time in 20 years that the House of Commons has voted on the topic.
Mr Corbyn revealed he would not vote when the Marris Bill comes before Parliament because he will be away.
Next Friday is also the eve of the results of the Labour leadership election.
With a week to go, the Church has also stepped up its campaign against the legalisation of assisted dying.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, warned that the legislation would “gravely undermine” the intrinsic value of human life.
“I urge Catholics, as active citizens, to contact their local MP about this most important issue before the vote,” he said in a statement this week.
Warning that a system that legalised euthanasia would be open to abuse, Cardinal Nichols urged the Government to develop palliative and end-of-life care.
“Those who are seriously or terminally ill deserve the best care that our society can give and must never be made to feel that they are a burden. We seek to support people in these circumstances, to the best of our abilities and resources,” he said.
The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has called on Catholics to contact their MPs and has provided postcards in parishes and a form on its website to help them do so.
Meanwhile, anti-euthanasia charities have also called urgently for their supporters to lobby MPs on the issue.
Right To Life asked members to telephone their MP to ask them to be present in the House of Commons next Friday to oppose the bill.
Christian Concern asked supporters to send the group’s postcards, with the message “Stop The Marris Death Bill”, to parliamentarians.
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