CofE spokesman misleads on Today programme

This from philosopher Simon Blackburn (passed on with his permission):

Some of you may have heard on yesterday's Today programme a C of E
spokesman, George Pitcher, say and repeat that there is no palliative
care in Holland as a result of their legislation on euthanasia. He
was not challenged by the presenter or by Lord Falconer, who is
seeking a change in the law governing assistance (which at present
renders a carer liable to up to 14 years in prison).
For interest, I gave evidence for the BHA to Lord Joffe's committee
who looked into this matter when he was seeking to change the law in
2004 - 5. I have the extremely thorough and impressive report and
evidence volumes in front of me. The evidence from Dutch professionals
was unambiguous that palliative care increased massively in Holland
from 1995 onwards, and partly as a result of their euthanasia
legislation has continued to develop. Palliative care is not a
speciality in Dutch medicine but is part of all health professionals'

Incidentally. George can be found wriggling about this here - read comments, especially Peter51, to whom George responds by making an irrelevant and (it turns out further down - see Peter51's response) misleading statement about 1,000 people year being killed against their will in the Netherlands. What a wanker.

P.S. Someone suggested I clarify that the above insult comes from me not S.B. Which of course it does. I don't normally issue insults - don't think I ever have on this blog. So the should be taken to indicate just how awful Pitcher's comments were. But perhaps this was a lapse and he is otherwise an nice, honourable chap. For all I know he is.


Brian said…
Liars for Jesus. Sadly, this is standard practice. The Catholic church is a seasoned professional at this kind of lies.
Toby said…
I, like many others, shouted "What?!?!?" at the radio. Glad to see someone followed up on it.

Mind you, having read a few of "George of the Upper Sixth's" newspaper articles attacking secularism in general (and Dawkins in particular), I'm not surprised.
Martin said…
"What a wanker."

Good call. Can we quote you on that?
AC said…
Just to make it worse - If you continue to read the comments, Peter51 posts an argument against Pitcher's quote. Pitcher then criticises Peter51 for supposedly going off topic.

What a wanker indeed.
I would like to rant.

The vast majority of Canadians who prepare powers of attorney for personal care (i.e. living wills) have directions that go something like this:

The following are my instructions to my attorney, and my wishes, with respect to the giving or refusing of consent to specified kinds of treatment under specified circumstances: I do not wish to have my life unduly prolonged by any course of treatment or any other medical procedure which offers no reasonable expectation of my recovery from life threatening physical or mental incapacity, except as may be necessary for the relief of suffering.

Basically, all this means is that most people would not want to kept alive on a life support system in a persistent vegetative state if there is no hope of getting better. However, the problem that arises is that not unduly prolonging life is a far cry from ending it mercifully and swiftly. Consider these two scenarios:

Scenario #1 - Your beloved family pet, a poodle named Lazarus, is run over by a car and just manages to survive. You rush him to the vet who tells you that Lazarus has been severely brain damaged, has sustained multiple fractures and internal injuries, has no chance of recovery and will inevitably die within the next few weeks.

Scenario #2 - Your 75 year old mother has incurable cancer and has just sustained a stroke. She has lapsed into a coma from which the doctors assure you she will never regain consciousness. She can't eat or use the bathroom herself. Your mother has appointed you as her power of attorney for personal care and repeatedly directed you during her lifetime that she would not want her life to continue under these kinds of circumstances. The doctors assure you that your mother has no chance of recovery and will die sometime within the next few weeks or months.

What's the difference between these two scenarios? Well, there is a huge difference. 99% of those owning Lazarus would ask for their beloved pet to be euthanized without hesitation. On the other hand, if you live in the U.S. or Canada, 99% of doctors will refuse to anything more than remove the intravenous tube and provide pain relief because to do anything more proactive than that is illegal.

If we leave religious hocus pocus to the side for a moment, why should someone is enduring terrible suffering as a result of an incurable disease not have the right to die if they possess the mental capacity to make that choice? Similarly, even if someone who is dying no longer possesses the ability to give or refuse medical care, why shouldn't their designated decision maker(s) be permitted to hasten the end of their life?
anticant said…
It's not just religious hocus-pocus. These anti-euthanasia types have such a low view of human nature that they think any relaxation of the law against it will lead to a proliferation of Harold Shipmans in the medical profession and hordes of greedy relatives bumping off tottery old folk for their money and possessions.

Says quite a lot about the 'religious' attitude to "love thy neighbour".