Euthanasia is never out of the news

A hot topic, and something debated in Year 10 RE lessons as part of Unit 1 Section 2 (Matters of Life and Death), it seems that every week you’ll find it in the British news.

Last week there was a Dutch minister who said he regretted how the Netherlands had legalised euthanasia and that he feared Britain would make the same mistake.

Meanwhile this week it is the former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr George Carey who has announced his support for the proposal to legalist assisted dying as a way of preventing “needless suffering”.


As peers prepare to debate a bill next Friday to legalise assisted dying, the former head of the worldwide Anglican church said it would not be “anti-Christian” to ensure that terminally ill patients avoid “unbearable” pain. The assisted dying bill, due to be debated next Friday at second reading in the House of Lords, would legalise assisted dying for the terminally ill in England and Wales.

The Church of England is strongly opposed to the bill. But in an article for the Daily Mail, Carey said he had changed his mind after witnessing the pain of Tony Nicklinson who suffered from locked-in syndrome. He died two years ago just weeks after losing his high court battle.

Carey wrote: “The fact is that I have changed my mind. The old philosophical certainties have collapsed in the face of the reality of needless suffering.

“It was the case of Tony Nicklinson that exerted the deepest influence on me. Here was a dignified man making a simple appeal for mercy, begging that the law allow him to die in peace, supported by his family. His distress made me question my motives in previous debates. Had I been putting doctrine before compassion, dogma before human dignity?

“I began to reconsider how to interpret Christian theology on the subject. As I did so, I grew less and less certain of my opposition to the right to die.”


The Falconer bill would allow doctors to administer a lethal dose of drugs to terminally-ill patients with less than six months to live who have the mental capacity to make an informed choice. The patient’s condition would have to be assessed by two doctors.

The former archbishop wrote of how he challenged his own thinking as he re-read the Scriptures. He wrote: “One of the key themes of the gospels is love for our fellow human beings … Today we face a terrible paradox. In strictly observing accepted teaching about the sanctity of life, the church could actually be sanctioning anguish and pain – the very opposite of the Christian message.”

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, the chair of Inter-Faith Leaders for Dignity in Dying, welcomed Carey’s intervention. Romain said: “The former archbishop’s words are like a breath of fresh air sweeping through rooms cloaked in theological dust that should have been dispersed long ago. He shows that it is possible to be both religious and in favour of assisted dying.”

MPs and peers will be given a free vote on the bill. Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat care minister, is expected to support the measure.


A Summer of Fun in London

There are so many amazing exhibitions and special events which are due to take place this summer in London that you truly have an array of exciting learning opportunities there for the taking.

Here are some examples but I’d recommend that you check out Time Out London  to get a better idea of what you can do.

TATE BRITAIN – British Folk Art is on until 31st August 2014, costing £14.50 for adults and £12.50 for children. You will discover the extraordinary and surprising works of some of Britain’s unsung artists in the first major exhibition of British folk art.

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Steeped in tradition and often created by self-taught artists and artisans, the often humble but always remarkable objects in this exhibition include everything from ships’ figureheads to quirky shop signs, Toby jugs to elaborately crafted quilts. I went with my seven year old daughter and we both found it a real eye opener to often unmentioned British culture and history. Why don’t we learn about this in school?

TATE MODERN – Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs is a hugely popular exhibition which is on until 7th September, costing £18 for adults and £16 for children. Henri Matisse is a giant of modern art. This landmark show explores the final chapter in his career in which he began ‘carving into colour’ and his series of spectacular cut-outs was born.


The exhibition represents a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see so many of the artist’s works in one place and discover Matisse’s final artistic triumph. Like all art exhibitions it isn’t just about the Art and you get an insight into Matisse’s life in the first half of the 20th century.

BRITISH MUSEUM – The Other Side of the Medal – how Germany saw the First World War is a free display which examines a selection of medals made by artists who lived and worked in Germany between 1914 and 1919. Challenging and at times deliberately provocative, many of the medals were intended to influence popular opinion against Germany’s enemies. Others provide a more universal criticism about the futility of war and waste of human life. You’ve got until 23rd November 2014 to catch this special display.

THE CARTOON MUSEUM (35 Little Russell Street, London) – 1914 Day by Day Cartoons will be until 19th October and will see twelve cartoonists and graphic artists respond to the events that happened across the world as the world was heading to war one hundred years ago.

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Artists include Steve Bell (Guardian), Peter Brookes (The Times), Steven Camley (Glasgow Herald), Kate Charlesworth (The Cartoon History of Time), Achim Greser & Heribert Lenz (Frankfurter Allegemeine), John McCrea & Ferg Handley (Marvel/Lucasfilm & Marvel/Commando), Jon McNaught (Dockwood), Woodrow Phoenix (Rumble Strip), Zoom Rockman (The Zoom!), Posy Simmonds (Tamara Drew), Ralph Steadman (New Statesman), and Lalit Kumar Sharma & Alan Cowsill (The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Marvel).

Mother meets man with son’s heart

A mother whose son died six years ago saw her wish come true when she met the man his donor heart saved in a “completely coincidental” moment. In the “one-off situation” Freda Carter told the Daily Telegraph that she came across her son’s anonymous transplant recipient at a memorial service and became “hysterical” when she realised who he was.


Mrs Carter and her husband John lost their son, also John, to a brain tumour when he was 33, and gave permission for some of his organs, including his heart,to be donated. All they were given was the recipient’s first name, Scott, and when Mrs Carter saw a Scott listed to sing at a memorial service for organ donors last November, she said her maternal instinct kicked in and she knew it was him.

“When I sat down and and turned the page on the order of service and saw his name there, a strange feeling came over me,” the 66-year-old from Sunderland told the newspaper.

“I knew he was the recipient of John’s heart.

“It was irrational as Scott is a common name and he could have been anywhere in the country. I was completely hysterical. I couldn’t breathe and I started making a massive scene. I think it must have been maternal instinct.”

Scott Rutherford, who was 14 when he underwent the transplant, said he was “eternally grateful ” for the donation, and allowed Mrs Carter to feel her son’s beating heart. Daughter Julie Carter, 43, said it had always been her mother’s wish before she died to meet the boy who had received the heart. She told the Sunderland Echo: “The boy wanted to say thanks to us and it was very emotional for all involved.

“One of my mam’s dying wishes was to touch John’s heart and she put her hands on the lad’s chest to feel it.”

Lynn Holt, heart and lung transplant co-ordinator at Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, said the situation was very unusual.

“This case is a one-off situation because it was completely coincidental as Scott was a guest speaker at a service where John’s family were attending,” she told the Daily Telegraph.

“I know that Scott was so happy that he got to meet the family, even if it was such an unusual situation.”

Mr Rutherford, 20, now works as an actor and said: “I am unbelievably thankful to John and his family for everything that they have done for me. The difference in my health is amazing. My heartbeat is so strong that it keeps me awake at night.”

Israel carries out air raids on Gaza, Hamas fires rockets at Israeli cities


The West Bank, Golan Heights and Gaza Strip make up Palestine at the moment. Borders and statehood are not fixed but regularly being questioned and changed.

As students discover when studying about the Israeli- Palestine conflict in Year 8 RE, some conflicts are complicated and bubble on, killing and injuring people, year after year after year. In recent weeks there have been kidnappings and murders from both sides, and now we have rocket attacks taking place.

The latest BBC report shows how the tit for tat killings has escalated:

Smoke and flames are seen following what police said was an Israeli air strike in Rafah in Gaza Strip

This picture was taken 19 hours ago, showing the rocket attacks on the Gaza Strip.

Three People a Day Still Die from a Shortage of Donors

Statistics today reveal that organ transplants are on the rise but still large numbers of people are dying in Britain because of a shortage of organ donors. The BBC report that family refusal is one of the biggest barriers; when families of recently deceased person refuse to let their organs be donated even if the dead person has agreed themselves to organ donation.

A year ago the BBC broadcast a documentary all about how the organs of one donor were distributed to save the lives of others: