At the annual conference of the National Council of Women, held in London last week, a resolution against the Criminal Law Revision working party's proposal to make "mercy killing" a new alternative to a charge of murder was won by a majority NCW 226 to 45 against.
The CW has at times shown signs of humanist infiltration, but the speeches against "mercy killing" were inspiringly Christian and would have warmed the heart of Pope Paul. A separate crime of "mercy killing" would be infinitely more dangerous than a law allowing voluntary euthanasia, as it would allow the layman to take the law into his own hands — an extraordinary proposition to come from a working party composed of the hierarchy of the legal profession.
At present a judge must impose a life sentence on a person who is convicted of murder. There are ways of getting round this by pleading manslaughter or temporary insanity due to reactive depression, but surely it should be possible either to introduce degrees of murder, as in the United States, or to grant discretionary powers to judges.
My object in writing this to the Catholic Herald is to praise NCW for its truly Christian voting on this matter, and to say how important it is that we should be involved in societies which have some influence on Parliamentary opinion. .
(Dr) Mary Belton Vice-chairman, Health Committee, NCW. London, El I.