Church of England Priest Voices Support for Assisted Suicide Bill

Church of England Priest Voices Support for Assisted Suicide Bill

An influential priest of the Church of England has spoken out, supporting a bill permitting physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill adults in Great Britain. Canon Rosie Harper, the vicar of Great Missenden and Bishop of Buckingham chaplain, expressed her support for Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill, backing up her position with scripture reports Christian Today.

Harper said that she did not believe God requires “extreme suffering” prior to death. “Nor do I believe that holding onto life at all costs is the uncontested goal of humanity. The crucifixion itself demonstrates that there are higher goals than the preservation of one’s life. John 15.3: There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

The priest also cited Old Testament scripture to support her claim. "There are nine suicides in the Old Testament and none of them are condemned. You could actually make quite a cogent argument to say that there is a suicidal element to the crucifixion. Jesus knew perfectly well what was to happen, and he did not count his life just simply going on more valuable than the higher task he had to do. There are deeper moral issues about your life than just making it go on and on for ever as long as it can go."

Physician-assisted suicide is currently legal in Switzerland; Harper painted a picture of the peaceful death of her uncle there. "My uncle had a beautiful death, with his family around him...good music, good wine, and a pain-free end. The days that would have followed as he struggled through the end stage of a brain tumour would have been terrible. He had no choice about dying. He did have choice about the manner of his death. That's all this bill is offering."

“I support Falconer’s bill really out of the depths of my faith. I think it comes down to what sort of God you believe in. I believe in a God who is compassionate and who essentially offers us free will.” 

Publication date: June 12, 2014