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Brown 'totally against' assisted suicide

LONDON, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he would block any move to legalize assisted suicide, saying British law must recognize the value of human life.

"I am totally against laws" allowing assisted suicide or euthanasia, Brown said on BBC Radio 4's "Today" program.

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He said such laws might put vulnerable people under pressure to agree to end their own lives.

"I think we have got to make it absolutely clear that the importance of human life is recognized," Brown said in the radio interview with Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster.

Debate on the subject was stoked this month when a TV documentary showed an assisted suicide, including the moment of death, of a 59-year-old British man with a motor neuron disease, The Times of London reported.

Prosecutors also decided this month not to charge the parents of a 23-year-old former British rugby player, paralyzed from the chest down in a training accident, who accompanied their son to a Swiss assisted-suicide clinic.

British law makes it a crime to "aid, abet, counsel or procure" someone else's suicide.

Campaigners for assisted dying criticized Brown's stance.

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"It should not be for Gordon Brown or Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor to decide when a dying adult's suffering should end," Dignity in Dying spokesman James Harris told the Times.

"Within safeguards, it should be a decision for the dying adult themselves," he said.

Brown is "out of step with public opinion," he added.

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