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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Church Defends Bishops Support for Killing Disabled

The Church of England has come out to defend the statement of the Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Rev Tom Butler, that supports the position that disabled infants be left to die. The Church falls back on the popular defense that his statement was taken out of context or was misunderstood. So let's look at the statement and the Church's defense.

"The foetus and neonate are unique individuals under God. We cannot therefore accept as a justification for killing them the argument that their lives are not worth living.

"This is not incompatible with accepting that it may in some circumstances be right to choose to withhold or withdraw treatment, knowing that it will possibly, probably or even certainly result in death," said Bishop Butler, who is also the vice chair of public affairs of the Mission and Public Affairs Council.

Bishop Butler went on to say that, in making that decision, there would have to be "very strong proportionate reasons for overriding the presupposition that life should be maintained" and that "all reasonable alternatives would have to be fully considered so that the possibly lethal act would only be performed with manifest reluctance".

I don't see much ambiguity here but here is the defense:

"The Church of England's submission to the Nuffield Inquiry is entirely in keeping with the Church's policy on treatment at the beginning and end of life," said the spokesman.

"The submission stated that fetuses and newborns should only have treatment withheld or withdrawn if treatment is futile."...

... "Let's be quite clear about this. The Church of England has not changed its position on euthanasia. It has always been opposed to euthanasia and still is," said CMF General Secretary Dr Peter Saunders.

"The media hype surrounding the church's stance on this issue simply results from some broad sheet journalists failing to understand the clear distinction between euthanasia, which is the deliberate ending of someone's life, and the withdrawal of ineffective and burdensome treatment from a dying baby."

Nice try but Bishop Butlet did not come close to restricting the option of terminating treatment to the "dying ". He very clearly opened the door to considering the economic and social cost as factors in the decision to withhold treatment that "possibly, probably or even certainly result in death,."

Even more convoluted is the distinction the Church is trying to make between withholding treatment and euthanasia. If one's actions knowingly result in the death of another it is either murder euthanasia or execution. By passively not offering life sustaining aid such as food, water, medicine or medical treatment when one knows such non action will result in the death of the one deprived, it is no different than an overt act of injecting some lethal substance such as blue juice or a lead bullet. It is in fact an act of self deception to not call it what it is. The fact remains that a person is dead because of the decision of another.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The terminology most civilized faiths use is to recognize that a sin can be in what we DO as well as what we FAIL TO DO. The Church of England has completely lost it's compass and become just a cermonial adjunct of the British state...at best.

Doug in Colorado

1:39 PM  

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