Right to die: Ex-Archbishop Lord Carey makes U-turn on assisted dying as publicly clashes with Justin Welby

Carey's surprise intervention comes as peers prepare to debate a Bill presented by the former Labour Lord Chancellor, Charles Falconer

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, and the current head of the Church of England, Rev Justin Welby, have publicly expressed opposing views in the debate over Lord Falconer's Bill to legalise assisted dying.

Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has called for Parliament to think again about whether terminally ill patients should be granted the right to choose when to die.

However Archbishop Welby described the Bill to be debated in the House of Lords on Friday as "mistaken and dangerous".

Writing in the Times, Archbishop Welby said he understood how seeing a loved one suffer prompted the desire to "do almost anything" to alleviate their suffering.

He cited the agony he suffered seeing his own seven-month-old daughter Johanna, who was fatally injured in a car crash in France, die in 1983.

But he warned that the "deep personal demands" of one situation should not blind people to the needs of others including more than a half a million elderly people who are estimated to be abused every year in the UK.

"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," he wrote.

Lord Carey’s positive views on the bill run counter to the long-established position of the Church of England, which is opposed to any change in the law that would make assisted suicide or voluntary euthanasia legal.

His surprise intervention comes as peers prepare to debate a Bill presented by the former Labour Lord Chancellor, Charles Falconer, which would allow doctors to prescribe poison to terminally ill and mentally alert people who wish to kill themselves.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Lord Carey said he was still implacably opposed to assisted suicide and euthanasia – but would support the assisted dying bill during its second reading next Friday.

He wrote: “Until recently, I would have fiercely opposed Lord Falconer’s Bill, following the traditional line of the Christian Church. I would have used the time-honoured argument that we should be devoting ourselves to care, not killing.  

“I would have paraded all the usual concerns about the risks of ‘slippery slopes’ and ‘state-sponsored euthanasia’. 

“But those arguments which persuaded me in the past… fail to address the fundamental question as to why we should force terminally ill patients to an unbearable point. It is the magnitude of suffering that has been preying on my mind as the discussion… has intensified.”

The President of the Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger, warned recently that unless Parliament decides whether to amend the law, the courts may do the job for them. So far, 110 peers have indicated that they want to speak in Friday’s debate on the Falconer Bill.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy