Esther Rantzen’s petition to legalise assisted dying received more than 200,000 signatories, triggering a parliamentary debate. Christian Concern’s Andrea Williams is calling on politicians to protect the sanctity of life


Shortly after she was married, Nikki Kenward contracted Guillain-Barré Syndrome. The condition left her ‘locked in’, with the ability only to blink one eye. Her husband, Merv, was understandably devastated. Nikki says that, at the time, she didn’t want to live: “I think if my family had been asked by the hospital, they would have opted to end my life. I hadn’t seen my son for months and the thought of him being without me broke my heart more than what was happening to me.”

Now, having seen her son grow up and get married, she is grateful that there was not the choice for her or her family to make. “I believe that suicide is not the answer, the answer is brilliant, palliative care”, she says.

Nikki and Merv attended the Westminster rally organised to protest against legalising assisted suicide in the UK. If there were a change in the law, said Nikki, it would be “opening the door to hell, and it will change how we see society.”

We at Christian Concern wholeheartedly agree. Do we want a society that cares for those who are suffering - or one where we simply put people down like dogs? The case for euthanasia claims to be compassionate but, in fact, it turns vulnerable people into problems that can be ‘fixed’ with a lethal injection.

Christians must speak life into our culture rather than letting this culture of death spread

We have long maintained, along with the Church throughout the ages, that assisted suicide and euthanasia are dangerous and wrong.

Sadly, there are increasingly loud voices arguing that changing the law to help people kill themselves or permitting doctors to kill their patients is actually “choice, dignifying, and compassionate.”

But is that really true?

As Nick Fletcher MP said in the Westminster Hall debate: “The thought of killing someone just because they are old or in poor health makes me feel desperate for the state of our society. It also makes me see how naive our society is becoming - naive that, if this policy ever came into force, it would remain tightly controlled.”

A slippery slope

In countries such as Canada, Netherlands and Belgium, where assisted suicide and euthanasia have been legalised, there are increasing numbers of horrifying stories.

  • A 71-year-old man from British Columbia was approved for an assisted suicide with his only known condition being hearing loss.
  • In Calgary, a 27-year-old woman whose only publicly-known conditions were autism and ADHD, was approved against her father’s wishes.
  • A 51-year-old woman in Ontario with chronic pain was granted a physician-assisted death. She had pleaded for better living conditions that would have eased her pain, but had no success. She wrote: “I have given up hope and have applied for – and now qualify for – [assisted suicide].”

Statistics from the US state of Oregon show that nearly 50 per cent of those who choose euthanasia feared being a burden. With journalist Matthew Parris’ commenting in The Times recently that increased “pressure on the terminally ill to hasten their own deaths” would be “no bad thing”, it is easy to see why. As Christians we need to be the loudest in standing against such vile sentiments and saying “you are not a burden”.

Sadly, those campaigning for assisted suicide and euthanasia - and the MPs speaking about it - are refusing to see what inevitably happens when you legislate that sometimes killing is legitimate.

True compassion

The famous, emotive voices talk lots about “compassion”, but what does this word actually mean?

Compassion literally means to suffer with. It means stepping into the pain and suffering of another, doing the hard work of caring and loving. This is not the same as killing someone because it seems easier. Are we going to lay aside our selfish desires and preferences to look after and care for our family members? (see 1 Timothy 5:8).

I don’t know many churches that are speaking and teaching about this. But if we don’t, the Esther Rantzens of society and the emotive testimonies in the media will be the ones that persuade hearts and minds.

We are facing the prospect of a new government with a Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer, who is advocating for a change in the law. It is more important than ever that Christians speak life into our culture rather than quietly letting this culture of death spread.

Doing the hard work of caring and loving is not the same as killing someone because it seems easier

God the Son took on flesh and came to suffer and die on our behalf, so that we can have eternal life in him. By the power of the Spirit, we can endure suffering this side of eternity as we look forward to a day where “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

Until then, we do the work of caring and loving the most vulnerable. The message of the world – and sadly some deceived Christians – is that we should artificially end suffering this side of eternity by killing, and instead usher in an eternal suffering.

Our world is crying out for a gospel hope; let us proclaim it and share the wonderful news of life abundantly in Christ alone.