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VESS Newsletter Profile

Andrew Hill

A Church Minister on the VESS Committee? Yes, it's true. "My congregation would expect me to take a fairly liberal view on moral issues," says Reverend Andrew Hill. In his 22 years as minister at St Marks Unitarian Church in Edinburgh, he can't recall strong opposition to his views on euthanasia, many of which were shared by his early role models while studying for the ministry. Andrew is a 5th generation Unitarian minister - following in the footsteps of his family to his great grandfather. He is no born-again v.e. supporter - rather his views have become pragmatic over the years as he looks for ways to further the responsible moral environment that made such an impression on him in his formative years. "I've not so much changed my position as changed the way it's expressed."

Graduating with a Degree in Theology at Manchester, he recently spent six years compiling the Unitarian manual on births, deaths and unions. Not missing out on the latest technology, he is has been using the Internet to begin looking at the possibility of an inter-faith group for assisted suicide. He describes the religious right as "possibly the most intolerant organised body of opinion that exists." In America, church attendance is very high, but does it build a better nation? Andrew thinks not. He is put off by the refusal of the anti-euthanasia groups to consider opposing arguments. When the founder of VESS, Sheila Little, died, he conducted her (Humanist) funeral. "For the Christian, people come before principles any day," he wrote in EXIT Newsletter back in 1982. Later, as a VESS member, he says that later years on the Executive Committee gave him a greater knowledge of the problems. Just three years after his latest sermon on euthanasia, he is planning another - this time on assisted suicide and in the light of the new research from Glasgow University.

How does he feel about the current campaign? "I prefer the Dutch model to the one recently tried in Australia. We constantly talk of 'autonomy', but no-one lives in isolation in this world. In the Netherlands, everyone is involved - the family are consulted and the doctor must know the patient well; in Northern Territory, an unknown foreigner can apply for euthanasia."

Andrew Hill - writings on euthanasia can be found in VESS Newsletter Spring 1982 Half a Case Against, and Sep 1993 Living Good Deaths.

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