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Church fights reemergence of euthanasia legislation

The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, and Catholic Health Australia, have commented on separate "misguided and unnecessary" minor initiatives in the UK and Australian parliaments intended to bring euthanasia back on to the public agenda.

The British bishops issued a statement through their Christian Responsibility and Citizenship Department countering a private member's Bill being introduced by Lord Joffe.

Lord Joffe proposes assisted suicide for the terminally ill, but the bishops' statement argues it "would open up an appalling vista in which over time the cold calculation of costs of caring properly for the ill and the old would loom large."

They argued that terminally ill people need to be "cared for, not killed".

"It is both moral and legal now for necessary pain relief to be given even if it is likely that death will be hastened as a result. But that is not murder or assisted suicide. Terminally ill people need to be cared for, not killed."

In Australia, Catholic Health Australia CEO Francis Sullivan yesterday accused the Australian Democrats of attempting to revive the issue of euthanasia for the sake of political opportunism.

Australian Democrats' Deputy Leader Lyn Allison has given notice of the introduction of a private members bill to repeal the Euthanasia Laws Act 1997.

Mr Sullivan commented in Catholic Health Australia's Canberra Update: "The federal parliament settled this issue in the late 1990s. Apart from electoral opportunism this seems to be no other burning reason to open up the debate again."

Comment by Archbishop Peter Smith, Chairman of the Department of Christian Responsibility and Citizenship, Catholic Bishops' Conference of England & Wales, on the Assisted Dying for the Terminally ill Bill - private member's Bill being introduced by Lord Joffe (Catholic Church in England and Wales 8/3/04)
Catholic Health Australia Canberra Update (8/3/04)

Nursing home operators face beds auction (Sydney Morning Herald 8/3/04)
Nursing homes going broke (The Examiner 8/3/04)
Shortage of dementia beds looms (Sydney Morning Herald 8/3/04)
Cabinet set to discuss aged care (ABC Radio AM 8/3/04)
Acquisition of St Luke's Private Hospital, Launceston (Little Company of Mary Health Care)

9 Mar 2004