Nazir-Ali to Carey: Falconer Bill would not have helped Tony Nicklinson
In explaining his change of heart on the matter of 'Assisted Dying', Lord Carey wrote in the Mail that watching the appalling suffering of Tony Nicklinson was instrumental in his reflection. He said:
It was impossible not to be moved by his argument, especially when he described the horrific pain he has to endure every day. He was supported in this legal action by Jane Nicklinson, whose late husband suffered from the terrible locked-in syndrome after he suffered a stroke.But speaking on the BBC's 'Sunday Morning Live', Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali astutely pointed out that the Falconer Bill restricts intervention except in those cases where the patient's condition is terminal, specifically with a six-month life expectation. And so Bishop Michael's good friend George, who he says is undeniably warm and compassionate, is also somewhat confused.
A previously active, sports-loving family man, Tony Nicklinson had been rendered absolutely powerless, vulnerable and isolated, an experience he found intolerable.
No one will deny that Tony Nicklinson suffered appallingly; his condition imposed an almost inhuman degradation upon him which, he felt, ought not to be endured by anyone. But his condition was not medically terminal: no doctor at any time gave the crucial 'six-month' prognosis. And so Lord Carey has been reflecting on a case which, in fact, demands more than Lord Falconer proposes.
'Sunday Morning Live' then interviewed a disabled man who argued passionately for his 'right to die', while also not himself suffering a condition which is terminal.
We see here (already) the purposeful conflation of 'Assisted Dying' with euthanasia, and a manifest confusion on behalf of some very senior and influential voices who really ought to know better. Indeed, it is the 'thin end of the wedge' and 'slippery slope' made manifest: Lord Carey is (unwittingly?) making the case for 'Assisted Dying' in all cases where the continuation of life is deemed to be somehow lacking in 'quality'. This is why Archbishop Justin Welby is absolutely right to say that the Bill is "mistaken and dangerous":
It would be very naive to think that many of the elderly people who are abused and neglected each year, as well as many severely disabled individuals, would not be put under pressure to end their lives if assisted suicide were permitted by law.
It would be equally naive to believe, as the Assisted Dying Bill suggests, that such pressure could be recognised in every instance by doctors given the task of assessing requests for assisted suicide. Abuse, coercion and intimidation can be slow instruments in the hands of the unscrupulous, creating pressure on vulnerable people who are encouraged to “do the decent thing”. Even where such pressure is not overt, the very presence of a law that permits assisted suicide on the terms proposed by Lord Falconer of Thoroton is bound to lead to sensitive individuals feeling that they ought to stop “being a burden to others”. What sort of society would we be creating if we were to allow this sword of Damocles to hang over the head of every vulnerable, terminally ill person in the country?