The Catholic Union has warned that introducing assisted suicide could lead to health and social care becoming 'no go' areas for Catholics and other people of faith.
The comment comes as the consultation stage of a Parliamentary inquiry into the possible introduction of assisted suicide in England and Wales comes to an end.
Following the decision from the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee to launch an inquiry into assisted suicide at the end of last year, the Catholic Union ran an online survey of members and supporters to ask for their views. It ran from 9 December 2022 to 9 January 2023. 270 people took part.
The results from the survey, published on 20 January, reveal that 88% of responders thought that introducing assisted suicide would make it harder for Catholics and other people of faith to enter the medical profession.
The results also reveal the need to give greater support to people nearing the end of their lives, with only 13% of responders saying there is enough palliative care on offer in England and Wales.
The survey found that:
- 88% of responders said the law should not be changed or should be made tighter to act as a deterrence against assisted suicide in England and Wales
- Only 5% of responders said the law should be changed to make seeking assisting suicide lawful in England and Wales
- Only 4% of responders strongly agreed that assisted suicide should be a priority for MPs
The Catholic Union has used the results from the survey as the basis of their written evidence to the Committee's inquiry. The Committee is expected to take oral evidence before producing a report and recommendations to Government later in the year.
The Catholic Union recently took part in a consultation in Jersey on plans to introduce assisted suicide on the island, and will be participating in another consultation later this month on a possible change in the law on the Isle of Man.
Catholic Union Vice President, Baroness Sheila Hollins, comments:
"The results from the Catholic Union's survey are extremely worrying. They reflect what many of us in the medical profession have feared for a long time - that assisted suicide could lead to health and social care becoming 'no go' areas for Catholics and other people of faith. This could make existing staff shortages in these areas even worse and deprive the medical profession of talented doctors and nurses of the future.
The debate around assisted suicide must be focused on the best way to care for those who are terminally ill. Good quality palliative care is essential, and this was recognised in the 2022 Health and Care Act. Until now in too many places and too many times this has been lacking. There is clearly a widespread desire, and a commitment in law, to see palliative care improved. That is where we need to start. I'm pleased the Catholic Union is taking up this matter in Parliament."