Church Statement on Assisted Suicide Bill

The ECtHR judgement declaring the complaints in the case of Nicklinson & Lamb v United Kingdom (nos. 2478/15 and 1787/15) inadmissible, has initiated further calls for the legalization of assisted suicide, and for support for the Private Member’s Assisted Dying (No. 2) Bill which is to be debated in the House of Commons on Friday, September 11. The judgement was quickly followed by the following  Press Release from the Church of England:

Churchgoers urged to voice concerns over assisted suicide Bill

16 July 2015

For immediate release

Churchgoers encouraged to contact MPs over assisted suicide Bill

Churchgoers are being encouraged to contact their MPs to highlight the risks involved in proposed legislation to legalize assisted suicide.

James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle, has asked that parishioners either make an appointment to see their MP or write them a letter expressing their concerns about a Private Member’s Bill to be debated in the House of Commons on Friday September 11.

The Bill is expected to seek to grant physician assisted suicide for mentally competent, terminally ill adults, who have six months or less to live.

Bishop James, the Church of England’s lead bishop on health care, said the proposed legislation, if passed into law, would have a detrimental effect both on individuals and on the nature of society.

He said: “Our concern about this proposed legislation is rooted in our practical care for the most vulnerable in our society. In our communities and through healthcare chaplaincy, the Church of England cares daily for the elderly, the ill, the dying and their families.

“If this Bill is passed we will have crossed a line that will make the future very uncertain and dangerous for a significant proportion of the most vulnerable people, including the elderly and those living with disabilities.

“This is a key moment for all of us as we decide what sort of society we want to live in and what future we want for our children and grandchildren, one in which all are valued and cared for, or one in which some lives are viewed as not worth living.

“I ask those who are happy to do so, to contact their MPs, either by making an appointment to see them in person at their constituency surgery, or by letter, to make it clear that they oppose this Bill.”

To hear a full interview with James Newcome on the Assisted Dying Bill listen here:



Contact details for MPs can be found on the Parliament website. Entering a postcode will give details of who your MP is and how to contact him/her:

Blog by Rev Dr Brendan McCarthy, national adviser to the Church of England on medical ethics

More information on the Church of England’s view on assisted suicide

A CofE Podcast includes an explanation from the Bishop of Carlisle on why he is asking parishioners to get involved in the assisted suicide debate.


We summarized the ECHR judgement here and will follow other legal developments on the Private Member’s Bill.

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Church Statement on Assisted Suicide Bill" in Law & Religion UK, 16 July 2015,

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