The Andrews Government’s desire to be the first State Government to legalise euthanasia should be resisted by all Victorians valuing the dignity of human life, according to the Australian Christian Lobby.
“The Andrews Government seems determined not to be outflanked by the Victorian Greens in its bid to pursue an extreme social agenda that does not appeal to many Victorians,” ACL Victorian director Dan Flynn said.
Mr Flynn said it was important the voices of those involved in palliative care should prevail over left-wing ideologies.
“It is telling that the Andrews Cabinet wants this legislation debated next year and not in 2018 - the election year,” he said.
“The Government knows this deeply unpopular and contentious legislation runs the risk of tripping up their run to the Victorian election.
“They know that presenting such an issue to socially conservative voters would be electoral suicide, so running the issue in 2017 will avoid a conservative backlash, satisfy the radical left and neutralise the Greens on the issue at election time.
“This week the Upper House has rejected two social agenda bills from the Government yet it seems the Government still doesn’t want to listen to the concerns of many Victorians.”
Mr Flynn said the ACL and its supporters understood and supported the aim of making end of life as comfortable as possible for those suffering pain.
“While the ACL understands and shares the desire to see people relieved of their pain, this can be achieved by taking advantage of the tremendous medical advances in palliative care,” Mr Flynn said.
“Palliative care is a more prudent and ethical way of ensuring a dignified death than public policy which is open to abuse and which unwittingly or wittingly puts pressure on the ill and vulnerable to end their lives.
“There are so many examples around the world which show that providing the ability to suicide puts undue pressure on vulnerable people such as those with disabilities, the very young or older citizens,” Mr Flynn said.
“The Government has exposed a glaring weakness in its proposal by seeking to duplicate the approach taken to assisted dying in Oregon in the US.
“The legislation in Oregon, held up by pro-euthanasia groups as a model framework, has pitfalls that the Victorian Parliament should not ignore,” Mr Flynn said.
“The Oregon law requires that patients be referred for psychological examination if the doctor suspects they have depression or mental illness, in order to protect those going through a period of mental illness from falling into the trap of assisted suicide.
“Yet in Oregon only five of the 132 individuals who died by assisted suicide in 2015 were referred for psychiatric evaluation to ensure that was not their motivation.
“More than 50 per cent of those who are assisted to suicide in Oregon speak of their concern of being a burden to family and friends.”