Legalizing Assisted Suicide Would be 'Disaster,' says Anglican Head

The Archbishop of Canterbury has reiterated his rejection of legalizing assisted suicide in the United Kingdom, saying that such a move would spell "disaster" for society.

"To say that there are certain conditions in which life is legally declared to be not worth living is a major shift in the moral and spiritual atmosphere in which we live," Dr. Rowan Williams said on Tuesday at the Church of England's General Synod meeting.

Drawing parallels to the U.K.'s change in abortion laws in 1967, Williams said: "The default position on abortion has shifted quite clearly over the past 40 years, and to see the default position shifting on the sanctity of life would be a disaster."

Williams' comments come following a January report from the Commission on Assisted Dying that recommended changing the law to allow doctors to give fatal doses of drugs to those diagnosed as having less than one year to live.

The Synod, along with other faith and pro-life groups, have criticized the commission as failing to provide adequate safeguards for vulnerable and disabled people.

Dr. Peter Saunders, Campaign Director of Care Not Killing, called the report "biased and flawed," refuting its claims to be a comprehensive, objective and independent review.

"[The report's] terms of reference were drafted to ensure that the final report backed a change in the law and ruled out maintaining the status quo," Saunders said in January, noting that nine of the eleven members of the commission were "known backers of assisted suicide."

Meanwhile, the Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt. Revd. James Newcome, told the Telegraph on Tuesday that he rejected the idea that assisted killing laws are more gracious to animals than they are to humans who are in terrible suffering.

"A truly compassionate society will invest in high quality palliative care rather than lethal doses of poison," he said. "We are not the same as our animals."

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