Is the proposed change to assisted dying legislation really about denying choice? Looking afresh at the harm principle

‘harm principle’ the philosopher John Stuart

Esther Rantzen is one of a number of well-known and well-regarded celebrities who have publicly declared their support for a change in the law on assisted dying. When a celebrity makes a pronouncement, many people stop and take notice even if the celebrity is not making any new arguments. Celebrity is persuasive. Esther Rantzen says that she appreciates all the arguments against assisted dying. Nevertheless, she thinks that people should be given a choice about how and when they want to die. In particular, she wants to spare her family from the painful memories of a bad death. She observes that, after all, we give dogs a painless death. Given the current prohibition on assisted dying under English law she has decided that if her treatment for stage four lung cancer does not improve her condition she may just ‘buzz off to Zurich.’

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Charlie Gard, Alfie Evans and Indi Gregory: finding the hope

Hope

Indi Gregory was not simply another tragic case of a very poorly infant nor the latest case of another contentious end-of-life court case, though her case was the latest in a line of cases where courts sided with doctors against the wishes of parents. Indi was a beloved child, and everyone involved in her care wanted the best for her. The problem was they disagreed on what was best. Unfortunately, it is likely that there will be similar cases in the future which is why it is fruitful to reflect on attitudes and principles underlying decision making in these heart-breaking cases.

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The Relational Church: Our Calling in Dark Times

caring

Jenny Sinclair is Founder and Director of Together for the Common Good. This is an edited version of her talk, ‘The Relational Church: Our Calling in Dark Times’ given at Hinsley Hall, Leeds, on 1 December 2023. Jenny was guest speaker for the Northern Diaconate Formation Partnership’s training weekend. This summary was first published on Independent Catholic News.

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Transparency, capacity and the nature of palliative care – the case of Sudiksha Thirumalesh

palliative care

In the majority of cases patients and their families trust their doctors. However, there is a growing number of high-profile cases hitting the media where patients, and especially the parents of very young and very poorly infants, simply do not agree with their doctors. Significantly, these cases are where the life of the patient is at stake and doctors believe that it is better to withdraw or withhold treatment and allow the patient to die ‘with dignity’.  

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Human Rights – on the 75th Anniversary of the UN Declaration

+Stephen Wright

“Following the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10th December 2023, Bishop Stephen Wright from the Department for Social Justice of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales issued a brief explanation of the Christian origins of human rights and a reflection on the state of human rights at the current time. Bishop Stephen writes:

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When the AI tool has a name and the embryo a number

Pregnancy test

CHLOE is not only a popular girls name. CHLOE is also the name of a new AI-based decision support tool in use in a handful of fertility clinics. Developed by the Israeli company Fairtility, “Cultivating Human Life through Optimal Embryos” (CHLOE) has been promoted as a tool to, in the words of the company, help improve IVF outcomes by helping to determine the likelihood of an embryo becoming a viable pregnancy. CHLOE is used to monitor and analyse embryos so that embryologists can make ‘better decisions’ on which embryos to implant. The AI tool has been clinically tested on over 50,000 embryos and works by grading and giving a score to an embryo based on an algorithm. The AI tool has a name, CHLOE, the human being at his or her early stage has a number, is analysed, graded, and given a score for quality.

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