The Australian Christian Lobby has expressed disappointment that the flawed Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017 has passed the second reading speech stage in the Victorian Legislative Assembly.

“If this Bill ultimately passes, it will put palliative care back decades. The implementation of this assisted suicide regime would give patients a choice between underfunded palliative care, not uniformly available throughout Victoria, and suicide pills,” ACL Victorian director Dan Flynn said.

“The Victorian Government has taken the easy way out by advancing a Bill that will put vulnerable people at risk of coercion and elder abuse. They have ignored the obvious danger in dispensing lethal cocktails for patients to take home and kill themselves. This will result in painful and lonely deaths.

“Despite months of Inquiries, the government has not managed to devise a means of killing its citizens ‘cleanly’. Nembutal, used for assisted dying overseas, is still illegal for humans in Australia. So, Victoria has approached Monash University’s Pharmacy Department to concoct a lethal prescription of different powders which, it hopes, will do the job – bypassing the need for approval from the therapeutic goods administration to allow Victoria’s citizens to kill themselves safely, ‘with dignity’, at home.

“Since clinical trials are clearly impossible when it comes to deadly poisons, the current bill proposes what can only be described as a program of human experimentation on Victoria’s most vulnerable.

“There is an idea that euthanasia is a magic bullet, guaranteeing a ‘clean kill’. International evidence suggests not. In the Netherlands 7 per cent of euthanasia ‘patients’ experienced unexpected side effects, including regaining consciousness, vomiting, gasping for breath and seizures. In Oregon, one death through euthanasia took four days and eight hours to complete. No one knows what effects the Victorian cocktail will produce,” Mr Flynn said.

“The kind of ‘compassion’ now proposed in this Bill is not considered good enough even for animals in Victoria. Beloved pets must be humanely taken to an appropriate facility to be euthanised.

“No system of safeguards can protect the elderly, even from those who are supposed to love them best. The 1994 House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics concluded that it would be ‘virtually impossible to ensure that all acts of euthanasia were truly voluntary and that any liberalisation of the law … could not be abused. We were also concerned that vulnerable people—the elderly, lonely, sick or distressed—would feel pressure, whether real or imagined, to request early death’.

“The Victorian MPs who yesterday voted to progress assisted suicide and euthanasia must realise that some people will be killed when they don’t want to be; by coercion, pressure, or mistake.

“We urge the members of the Legislative Council to reject this dangerous Bill when they debate it later this month,” Mr Flynn said.