The faithful must herald a better path than assisted suicide

Letter responding to Rabbi Jonathan Romain’s article in The Sunday Times.

It is sad to see Rabbi Jonathan Romain adding his voice to the UK’s assisted suicide campaign. In his article he cites personal experience, limitations in end-of-life care, celebrity and political endorsement, and public opinion as reasons why people with a terminal diagnosis should be given access to poison.

Rabbi Romain’s article fails to address any of the serious arguments levied against assisted suicide by innumerable experts: abuses playing out against the most-marginalised in countries like Canada; the gradual expansion of euthanasia regimes; and the dangers inherent to a system of state-facilitated death in a context of profound social inequality, endemic loneliness, and rising poverty.

Curiously for a professed “minister of religion”, the Rabbi also fails to make any real theological points. Decrying so-called religious opposition, he points to polls where respondents who “define themselves as people of faith” support assisted suicide. “This punctures the myth that religious beliefs and [assisted suicide] are somehow incompatible”, he writes. This is a non-argument.

As a Christian, my view on this issue is not determined by the opinion of self-described ‘people of faith’ in polls. Nor is it determined by the changeable winds of culture. Rather, it’s rooted in an understanding of ultimate morality that transcends time and place. And the knowledge that human beings flourish when they abide by moral principles laid down by a good, and loving creator.

Judaeo-Christian values underpin the contention that we should protect human life and meet the profound physical, mental, and spiritual needs of suffering people. Our adherence to these values, and defiance of euthanasia laws that open the vulnerable to abuse, has led to societal flourishing. Embracing the Nihilistic practice of death as an antidote to suffering would do immense harm.

Assisted suicide is not the right path for the nations of the UK. It is not true compassion. Rather than embracing the ‘spirit of the age’, the faithful need to herald a better path.


Jamie Gillies

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