Can You Make an Appointment with Death?

A Rational Guide to the Assisted Suicide Debate

Can You Make an Appointment with Death?

Can you make an appointment with death? The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales — as well as the rest of the Catholic Church — doesn’t think so.

A webinar was held on 12 July 2021 that aimed to provide a rational guide to the assisted suicide debate with two speakers with extensive experience of this complex and sensitive subject.

Founding Director of Living and Dying Well, Robert Preston is a former civil servant and parliamentary official. Baroness Ilora Finlay is a cross-bench member of the House of Lords and one of Europe’s leading palliative care consultants. They make clear from the outset that, in their view, the case being made for changing the law to legalize physician-assisted suicide does not stack up.

Preston and Finlay are the authors of Death by Appointment: A Rational Guide to the Assisted Dying Debate.

This is a book about a controversial issue—whether doctors should be licensed by law to supply lethal drugs to terminally ill patients. It is written primarily for those who want to find a path through the thickets of a subject that transcends many fields of expertise. The authors have considerable experience of the matters about which they write, involving both research and hands-on medical care of dying people. They are not neutral about ‘assisted dying’: they are not convinced that the law is in need of change. However, the book employs an evidence-based approach and brings much-needed clarity to such complex issues as how the existing law works, how medical practice operates at the end of life, and what has been the experience of jurisdictions that have gone down the ‘assisted dying’ road. Above all, the book shows respect for the views of others who may judge the evidence differently.

From law, to clinical practice, social attitudes, end of life care, public safety, and the experience of those jurisdictions, they carefully lay out their evidence in a manner that recognizes and respects that others may see the matter differently – something of a rarity in this emotionally charged area of discussion.

Bishop John Sherrington, our Lead Bishop for Life Issues, introduced the evening co-hosted by the National Board of Catholic Women. Bishop Sherrington has led the UK bishops in voicing strong opposition to legislation that would legalize assisted suicide in the UK.