By Hilary White

  TYNESIDE, UK, March 31, 2008 ( – A Tory councillor in Northumbria has resigned for suggesting that euthanasia is a solution to the cost of caring for disabled children. Councillor Hugh Jackson, ward councillor for Monkseaton North, had been suspended by his party after he remarked at a council meeting that euthanasia ought to be legalised to reduce the number of children in the care of public authorities.

  Jackson quickly retracted and apologised for his comments, saying, “It was misplaced humour, one of those things I wish I had not said. As soon as I said it I wished I hadn’t, it should never have been said.” On Monday, the council was told he was stepping down.

  But Alex Schadenberg, Secretariat chair for the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition – International, told that the comments, whether meant as a joke or not, are indicative of the new public attitude towards the disabled and vulnerable in this country.

“Thankfully, other councillors and most of the public have responded to the remarks with outrage,” Schadenberg said. But he points out that the suggestion is a serious one, given the acceptance in other countries of euthanasia for disabled children. “Considering the acceptance of the Groningen Protocol in the Netherlands and the fact that Belgium legislators are considering extending euthanasia to newborns in their country, sadly Jackson’s comments aren’t far from reality.”

  The incident is not isolated. Last week the Telegraph reported that the Rev. Maxwell Craig, a Chaplain to the Queen in the Church of Scotland, suggested that too much money was spent in Britain on old people who are “clinging to life”. Rev. Craig said that while he was not advocating withdrawing care from the elderly, he believed that the well-being and health of the next generation was more important than “squeezing out another few years”.

“Is our nation, acting wisely to plough so much of our NHS and social work funding into the care of the elderly at the risk of giving less focus to the needs of the young?” Rev. Craig said.

  Schadenberg commented: “Once again, the cost of caring for the most vulnerable people in society, whether they be people with disabilities, children in care, some of whom have disabilities, or the frail elderly, is being questioned within the context of their cost to society”.

  Schadenberg says that with the west’s increasingly elderly population, a function of our current anti-child demographic trends, there is a “growing negative trend toward vulnerable persons in society that is fuelling a push to legalize euthanasia”.

  While euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide is being touted as a “freedom of choice” issue, Schadenberg warns that it will result in the ending of many lives that are already being deemed to be too costly for care. “Remember, euthanasia is not about personal autonomy, it is about giving the right to another person (usually physicians) to kill a person for reasons that are defined by the government.”