Assisted Dying Legislation Risks Devaluing Life


Thursday 10th September 2015

Statement by the Revd Adrian Dorrian, Chairman of the Church and Society Commission of the Church of Ireland:

Tomorrow’s vote on the Assisted Dying Bill in the House of Commons is of significance for our society. 
There is perhaps no worse news to receive in life than that of a terminal diagnosis.  The Church of Ireland, along with other Christian denominations, sees its clergy minister to those who have received such diagnoses daily, with pastoral sensitivity and compassion.
The narrative of scripture and the witness of human experience are both in agreement that, above all else, life is a gift.  For those who profess faith, it is seen as a gift from God and in that context it is difficult to see how even the most sensitive legislation can do anything other than devalue this.

In his address to the General Synod in 2014, the Archbishop of Armagh said: ‘The very beginnings of life and the end of life on earth are gift, never to be treated as anything less … we must surely as Christians never concede that life is other than sacred, a gift of God from beginning to end, never to be thrown away as though it were personal property.’  The Archbishop went on to call for further resourcing for hospices and those who provide end-of-life care.

One marker of a society’s compassion is how it deals with the most vulnerable.  Legislating for assisted dying poses the serious risk of devaluing the life of the individual when most vulnerable.