Assisted dying – response

Assisted dying – response

Broadway is part of Churches Alive in Mann, a grouping of all the main Christian denominations on the Isle of Man. Here is our joint response to the Assisted Dying consultation in January 2023.

Churches Alive in Mann –
Response to Assisted Dying Consultation

Churches Alive in Mann represents all the main Christian denominations on the Isle of Man. We speak with one voice in saying that we do not support any changes to the law which would permit assisted dying, more accurately described as physician assisted suicide. While it is a duty for a caring society to relieve suffering, the artificial termination of life must be resisted in the strongest terms.

Pastoral Concerns

The long-rooted experience within our Churches of supporting a wide range of people through illness, through the final stages of life, and through bereavement, has given us insight into living well and dying well. There is so much that is precious about Manx community and the care we give to one another. A concern for personal autonomy regarding end of life choices needs to be weighed against care for people who live with disabilities, physical and mental impairments, or people with obvious or hidden vulnerabilities.

It is a sad reality that a proportion of elderly people suffer from physical, emotional or financial abuse and we have deep misgivings that a change in the law would in some cases lead to a greater concern for relieving the family’s suffering (or bank balance) than for the best interests of their elderly relative. Most people treat their loved ones with integrity, but for the few, existing experience shows that it is not easy to spot coercion.

Even for people who are not subjected to abuse, the existence of the proposed law would inevitably lead some people to conclude, not only that they could, but that they should end their lives to relieve burden on others. This is a well documented trend in Oregon.

In our Churches, we often find ourselves caring for people who are suicidal and helping them to find reasons to go on living. Legislation for assisted suicide would greatly weaken the message of hope we, and so many others on our Island, seek to share.

We believe that the dangers the proposed legislation poses to so many vulnerable people, far outweigh the benefits of autonomous choice for a few.

Moral Concerns

For thousands of years, “Do not kill” has been an ethical foundation of many civilisations. We believe that all human life is a sacred gift from God. The value of any member of our society is not determined by variable measures of the quality of life. If we begin to end individual lives prematurely, we will inevitably diminish the high value we place on all lives.

Living Well and Dying Well

We believe that life and death find meaning in relationship, both with God and with family, friends and wider community. To die well, we need to live well. To live well, we need to develop relationships, life practices and a depth of hope that sustains us throughout life to our dying breath. Life is just as valuable in suffering, limitations and loss of capacity, as it is in health, independence and strength.

We support the ethos of the Hospice and palliative care movement. We urge the Government to invest in extending and deepening the Island’s Hospice and palliative care provision as a life-giving alternative to legalising assisted suicide.

In the words of Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the Modern Hospice Movement:

You matter because you are you, and you matter to the last moment of your life.
We will do all that we can to help you to die peacefully, but also to live until you die.

Churches Alive in Mann affirm the enormous value of all lives and stands opposed to the legalising of assisted dying on the Isle of Man. Such legislation would inevitably turn us into a less compassionate society.