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Peer speaks out against forced abortion and violation of human rights in North Korea

Speaking at a meeting in the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea, hosted by the Republic of Korea Government’s Ministry of Reunification, a British member of the House of Lords said “without (the) right to life…all other rights are worthless”.

Lord (David) Alton detailed crimes against humanity in North Korea, including the use of forced abortion as a punishment, in the conference, held in the 10th anniversary year of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry into North Korea.

While in South Korea, during another event, Lord Alton warned that abortion culture “creates the circumstances in which the previously unimaginable and unthinkable becomes commonplace and routine”. He argued that the failure to respect the right to life from “the womb to the tomb” has resulted in a culture that uses “care and kill… as interchangeables”.

He argued in favour of the need for excellent palliative care for people who are suffering, especially at the end of their lives. “With proper palliative care, almost all pain can be alleviated”, he said.

The very real and difficult circumstances that can accompany death “[point] to the need for unconditional love and support, not the implicit message that we would prefer that they were dead.”

Quoting from his colleague, Baroness (Jane) Campbell, who has spinal muscular atrophy, Lord Alton pointed to the “obvious dangers” that euthanasia poses to disabled people.

He quotes the Baroness as saying “Disabled people’s lives are invariably seen as less worthwhile than those of non-disabled people. Descriptions such as “tragic”, “burdensome”, and even “desperate” are routinely used without objection. Unless one is extraordinarily strong, this negativity impacts on the individual disabled person. If suicide were a legally and socially acceptable option, too many would succumb to this fate believing being ‘put out of misery’ to be expected of them… Euthanasia is dangerous and threatening. I and many other severely disabled people will not perceive your support for it as an act of compassion, but one founded in fear and prejudice.” 

“Deliberately eliminating the patient is not treatment”

He also suggested that, while many of those who advocate for assisted suicide and euthanasia have the best of intentions, “criminal laws [exist], not because most people behave decently, but because a small number do not.”

“Some, for purely mercenary reasons, may want to see the life of the cared-for person prematurely ended. Changes in the law can be like music to their ears and can become an alibi for ending life”, he said.

“While the majority of families are loving towards those of their members who are sick, some are not – let us not forget that elder abuse takes place within families.”

In the Netherlands “year by year the number of [euthanasia] deaths has increased exponentially”

The majority of UK medical professionals, especially those working in palliative care, oppose introducing assisted suicide and euthanasia. Lord Alton said “In the UK, 95% of Palliative Medicine Specialists are opposed to a change in the law.  Are they all uncaring? Or do they believe there are radical alternatives to the defeatism represented by a lethal injection.”

Lord Alton also drew attention to jurisdictions that have already made assisted suicide and euthanasia legal, such as Canada and the Netherlands, and discussed some of the unintended consequences that result.

“In 2002, in the Netherlands, a Euthanasia law was enacted. It defined euthanasia as the administering of lethal drugs by a physician with the explicit intention to end a patient’s life on the patient’s explicit request. Even before this law came into effect, the decriminalisation of euthanasia was subject to abuse in the Netherlands”, Lord Alton said.

“Year by year the number of deaths has increased exponentially and within ten years a quarter of the euthanasias were not even being reported and recorded. It had become normative and routine.”

“An official report suggested that a quarter were being done without the patient’s consent. Then it was reported that at Gröningen Hospital doctors had killed twenty-two babies with spina bifida.”

A massive increase in the number of people dying by euthanasia

Before concluding, Lord Alton also made reference to the massive expansion of euthanasia in Canada since its introduction in 2016.

“In its first year, 1,018 people died by medical assistance in dying. In 2021, that figure was 10,064 – an increase of 889%.  Over these five years, the law has expanded to include people with non-terminal illnesses, and recent reports show requests being made and approved, on the basis of poverty and lack of disability support. Proposals are in place to allow for individuals to request MAiD on the basis of mental illness.”

Statistics from the state of Oregon, which made assisted suicide legal in 1997, show that most end-of-life concerns are not medical. The Oregon Health Authority report for 2021 says that 54.2% of patients were concerned with being a “burden on family, friends/caregivers”. 92% of patients were concerned with being “[l]ess able to engage in activities making life enjoyable”. 93.3% were concerned with “losing autonomy” and 68.1% were concerned with “loss of dignity”. Of the total who have died since 1997, 27.5% have listed “inadequate pain control, or concern about it” as one of their end-of-life concerns.

Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said “Lord Alton is absolutely right to warn other nations of the threat that legalising euthanasia poses to people with disabilities and those approaching the end of their lives. One need only look at other countries where the practice is legal to see the disastrous results of failing to protect citizens from euthanasia and assisted suicide.”

“At the root of both abortion and euthanasia, is a disregard for the right to life. Lord Alton is right to recognise that without the right to life, all other rights are meaningless.”

Dear reader,

You may be surprised to learn that our 24-week abortion time limit is out of line with the majority of European Union countries, where the most common time limit for abortion on demand or on broad social grounds is 12 weeks gestation.

The latest guidance from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine enables doctors to intervene to save premature babies from 22 weeks. The latest research indicates that a significant number of babies born at 22 weeks gestation can survive outside the womb, and this number increases with proactive perinatal care.

This leaves a real contradiction in British law. In one room of a hospital, doctors could be working to save a baby born alive at 23 weeks whilst, in another room of that same hospital, a doctor could perform an abortion that would end the life of a baby at the same age.

The majority of the British population support reducing the time limit. Polling has shown that 70% of British women favour a reduction in the time limit from 24 weeks to 20 weeks or below.

Please click the button below to sign the petition to the Prime Minister, asking him to do everything in his power to reduce the abortion time limit.