LEICESTER, United Kingdom – A new report from the UK Parliament’s Health and Social Care committee has not recommended a change to country’s law against assisted suicide, despite claiming evidence it has led to better end-of-life care in countries where it is legal.

In England and Wales, the 1961 Suicide Act makes it illegal to encourage or assist someone to take their own life, while laws in Scotland and Northern Ireland prevent dying people asking for medical help to die.

The report did call for improved mental health care for terminally ill people and said there should be a “national strategy for death literacy and support following a terminal diagnosis.”

Auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Westminster, John Sherrington – who serves as the bishops’ conference for life issues – said he welcomed the decision of the committee not to recommend the legalization of assisted suicide.

“The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales opposes its legalization out of concern for the good of every person in society, the protection of this good in law, and the spiritual and pastoral care of the sick and dying,” he said.

“The act of assisted suicide violates the dignity inherent to every person’s life, which is to be cherished and cared for at all stages until natural death,” the bishop added.

The report’s authors also said hospices in England needed extra money, since the National Health Service only provides about a third of the funding for hospices in the UK.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, who opposes legalizing assisted suicide, told BBC that palliative care is a “postcode lottery” in England.

“We need to make sure people are protected,” she said.

Sherrington pointed out the committee’s report said experts have noted that there have been major problems in safeguarding the vulnerable and those without full mental capacity when assisted suicide and euthanasia has been introduced in other jurisdictions.

“Recognizing the distress and suffering of those who are sick and vulnerable, I welcome the Committee’s recommendation that the accessibility and provision of palliative and end of life care needs to be improved – something the Catholic Church has consistently called for,” the bishop said.

The Catholic Union submitted evidence to the inquiry noting a survey into assisted suicide which found that 88 percent of responders did not want to see the law changed.

“There is a lot that needs to be considered when it comes to end of life care. A good place to start would be upholding the commitment to universal access to palliative care in the Health and Care Act,” said Baroness Sheila Hollins, the president of the Catholic Union.

“The report recommends that this is in place before there is any consideration of changing the law. The fact that there are very few recommendations is in some ways, quite helpful as it requires people to read and consider the evidence rather than just reacting to the recommendations,” she said.

Catholic Union Director, Nigel Parker, added the group has worked hard to highlight the deep concern from the Catholic community in Britain about changing the law on assisted suicide, including “the very real risk of making health and social care a no-go areas for Catholic medical professionals.”

Meanwhile, Care Not Killing – which opposes assisted suicide – said it welcomed the report’s documentation of the dangers of legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia, but that it was disappointing that the committee did not “come down firmly against changing the law.”

“It heard about the struggle many face with getting the right social care and how disabled people, the vulnerable and elderly find it tough to pay their bills or suffer from isolation and feel like they have become a burden,” said Gordon Macdonald, the chief executive of Care Not Killing.

“Indeed, one expert told the Committee about the clear evidence of the pressure on people who were seen as no longer ‘a useful member of society’ and that this pressure could be nonintentional,” he said in a statement.

“This is exactly what we see in places like Oregon, where a majority ending their lives cite burden on their families as a reason for ending their lives or Canada where 1,700 people cited loneliness as a reason for allowing the state to kill them,” he continued.

Macdonald also said there are many problems with changing the law to legalize state sanctioned killing.

“As we saw in the Netherlands and Belgium limits on who qualifies for an assisted death have been swept away. No longer is state aided killing with death row drugs limited to those with less than six months to live, but routinely includes disabled people, those with chronic non-terminal conditions and individuals with mental health problems, such as patients with dementia, treatable depression, anorexia even a victim of sexual abuse,” he said.

Sherrington said for Catholics and many others, consolation and support in times of terminal illness can be experienced “through prayer, the sacrament of the sick and the caring and compassionate presence of loved ones as a person prepares for eternal life.”

Follow Charles Collins on X: @CharlesinRome