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Implications of the change for euthanasia
Keir Starmer made it clear that relatives who actively help a terminally ill person to die are not covered by theguidelines and individuals could be expected to be charged with murder or manslaughter. This follows public concern that family members would put sick relatives under pressure.
Christians like Dr Sentamu (Archbishop of York) argue that any relaxation in the law against euthanasia will encouraga slippery slope where the sacredness of life will be seriously diminished. Slippery slopes can be halted: do the Starmer guidelines provide an adequate barrier against the slide?
The distinction means people like Kay Gilderdale - who was prosecuted for the attempted murder of her daughter who had ME - could still face criminal charges. A judge last month criticised the Crown Prosecution Service for charging Kay Gilderdale and a jury found her not guilty in less than two hours.
The abortion act of 1967, included disability as a criterion for legal abortion. Here disability is not included in thecriteria for non-prosecution for euthanasia. In line with natural law theory, people were concerned that this would lead to a devaluing of the sanctity of the disabled person's life. Keir Starmer commented: "The argument that by including disability, you sent messages to people about the value of lives was made by a number of individuals in a number of different ways and the more I heard it the more important I thought it was."