Society for the Protection of Unborn children...


Physician-assisted Euthanasia – ie the intentional killing of a
patient by act or omission as part of their ‘medical treatment’
when a patient’s life is not felt to be worth living’, is
illegal in the UK an in virtually all countries of the world.
There is pressure from many quarters to legalise it is. We
understand that the issue will come before the House of Lords on
10th October 2005 in relation to the Report of the Select Committee
on the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill.

We believe in the sanctity of life granted to us by our Maker. He
alone gives life and takes it away. A doctor’s or nurse’s duty
is to preserve not destroy life. We entered into medicine driven
by the motivation to serve the ill and suffering not to kill or
assist them in dying. In their submission to the Select Committee,
the General Medical Council wrote, ‘ a change in the law to allow
physician-assisted dying would have profound implications for the
role and responsibilities of doctors and their relationships with

‘Right to life’ is the cornerstone of Human Rights law.
Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. No one
shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution
of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for
which this penalty is provided by law ”. With capital
punishment abolished even this form of depriving ones life is
The Right to Life under Article 2 of the European Convention of
Human Right (ECHR)
precludes the legality of euthanasia and PAS. The principle is
fraught with problems –
· Euthanasia cannot be a truly autonomous act.
· it is almost impossible to ensure that a decision is truly voluntary,
· it is impossible to regulate euthanasia effectively.
· it would create a huge policy shift against the principle of
inviolability of life.

Doctors oppose it most individuals dread it. As an early 19th
century German Physician stated:
‘It is not up to [the doctor] whether life is happy or unhappy,
worthwhile or not, and should he incorporate these perspectives
into his trade the doctor could well become the most dangerous
person in the state’
Christoph William Hufeland, (1806)

Why then are we exposed to relentless pressures to create a law to
assist people in dying? Why are doctors expected to assist in
Requests for euthanasia are often cry for help. Indeed almost half
of the patients in Oregon who requested PAS retracted their request
after initiation of treatment such as, pain control,
anti-depressant medication or referral to a hospice.

Experience from Holland, where Euthanasia has been legal since
1984, indicates that with the passage of time, voluntary euthanasia
leads to involuntary euthanasia. This is now a cause of serious
problems there:
· A Dutch study in 1990 found that 1000 people were killed
without their consent.
· A study of 4,500 euthanasia deaths in 1995 found that 1 in 5
were killed without their consent
· It is reported that in thousands more cases treatment was
either withheld or withdrawn with the intention to shorten life
without the explicit request from the patient.
· It is reported that elderly Dutch patients are choosing to be
treated in German hospitals, for fear of being killed by Dutch

· We now hear that in Holland the lives of newborn babies are
being terminated. Dutch law does not allow this, even with the
consent of parents,(babies are incapable of giving consent),
nonetheless, 8% of all neonatal deaths in the Netherlands occurred
following the administration of drugs with the explicit aim of
hastening death.

Since the legalisation of assisted suicide in Oregon the number of
people who requested assisted suicide because they felt a burden to
their families or carers (12% in 1998 raised to 63% in 2000).
Inevitably, there will be pressure (real or imagined) on vulnerable
people – the elderly, lonely, sick, distressed or depressed –
to request early death. They will feel a burden on the family or
state. The right to die has now become a duty to die.

We have excellent palliative care services; opposition to patient
assisted euthanasia was 100% among doctors working Palliative Care
Medicine. Two weeks ago, the Editor of the British Medical Journal
asked, “Are you for, against, or-like the BMA – neutral?”
Most indicated that legalising assisted suicide would destroy trust
in doctors. Summarising the responses, Birte Twisselmann,
Assistant Editor (Web) writes that ‘the overwhelming response
from our readers remains that physician assisted suicide is not
what they became doctors to do.’ We do not want euthanasia to be
legalised - it is not a doctor’s role to kill or assist in
killing; it must remain one of healing and pain-relief.

We urge your Lordship’s support for the vast majority of doctors
and the general public who oppose any form of killing.

With the very best wishes,

Yours sincerely,


Dr Shuja Shafi MBBS, FRCPath
Chairman, Health & Medical Committee,
The Muslim Council of Britain.
64 Boardman House
Broadway, Stratford
London E15 1NT


(E-mailP: or

Also find us on:
Useful downloads
To view, listen or watch some materials in our sit, you will need the following