Previous meetings roundup

We have had two successful and very interesting meetings since the last newsletter.

On 20th March we had a talk by Ann  Leedham who works for Dignity in Dying –the new name for the Voluntary Euthanasia Society.  She was largely preaching to the converted, but it was a useful talk in that she defined Assisted Dying, Assisted Suicide and explained the work of Dignity in Dying and the sister organisation Compassion in Dying.  Dignity in Dying researches the area and involves itself in campaigning.  Ann gave all the arguments for helping people to die, should they wish to.  She pointed out that we have to travel to Switzerland to access it.  This has the disadvantage that people have to go while they are still well enough to travel.  Palliative care is not always successful or even available, and shot down the slippery slope argument.  She believes that there should be open and honest discussion about what sort of end of life care we want for ourselves.  At the moment assisted suicide is legal in The Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland and assisted dying in three US states. There was a discussion in parliament the week after our meeting, but the vote was against any change despite the fact that an increasing majority of the population favour choice for the individual.

Compassion in Dying is the organisation which can provide you with information about their rights. People should know that they can refuse treatment, provided that they are considered to have sufficient mental capacity to make the decision.  Mental capacity is the crucial test. For this reason you should consider making an advanced decision about what sort of treatment you may want so that it is clear what your wishes are if you are unable to express them, for instance in the event of an accident.  Forms suitable for recording this can be obtained from Compassion in Dying.  They must be witnessed and copies should be given to your family, solicitor, and doctor.  They should be reviewed from time to time to show you haven’t changed your mind.

A commission suggested in 2012 that there is a need to change the law on assisted suicide.  There will be a mass lobby of Parliament on 4th July. We know that families and friends who accompany people to Switzerland are not at the moment at risk of prosecution, but practice could change.

The group has a video in the library which sets out all these arguments.

 

Compassion in Dying  Information line 0800 999 2434 open Mon to Fri 11am to 3pm

181 Oxford Street London W1D 2JT

T 020 7479 7731

F 020 7287 1760

info@compassionindying.org.uk

www.compassionindying.org.uk

 

On 17th April we had a talk on The Lollards given by Bob Milner.  He gave us an overview of the state of the Catholic church and society in the 14th century, and painted a picture of the realities of life in rural Shropshire.  The first protestant was John Wycliffe, a preacher in Oxford.  He began to speak out in 1382 against the many abuses in the church, the sale of relics and indulgences, the opportunities for idol worship, the use of confession to avoid personal responsibility.  He wanted to disestablish the church, to allow women priests and to worship and read the bible in the vernacular. This was felt as a threat to the church and state and they worked together to shut down the discussion. An Act in 1401 allowed the church to burn heretics, although they only got round to it in half a dozen cases in the next 100 years. Bob told us that The Lollards continued to preach in a secretive way and were particularly active in NW Herefordshire. He provided us with a map of local spots with Lollard connections.

He suggested that the Lollards influenced Jan Huss, who influenced Martin Luther, who influenced the thinkers of the British Reformation.  Most of the abuses which concerned the Lollards were dealt with in protestant churches and the movement seems to have died away.

Bob’s suggested reference if you are interested in this topic G M Trevelyan  England in the Age of Wycliffe

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