No amount of tinkering with proposed euthanasia legislation in South Australia will provide adequate safeguards, warns Australian Christian Lobby acting South Australia Director Dan Flynn.
“It is disappointing to see the focus by those sponsoring the bill to do whatever it takes to get the legislation passed, through making amendments, rather than looking at what is in the best interest of South Australians,” Mr Flynn said.
The bill is slated for debate on Thursday.
As a just and compassionate society we can find better ways in dealing with the suffering which does not draw us into providing State-sanctioned killing.
“If you follow the logic of euthanasia proponents, it is easy to see how safeguards are removed, if not immediately, then in the future.
“Research shows that there is no such thing as ‘safe’ euthanasia legislation and as a community we need to send a clear signal to those requiring assistance that they are not better off dead but are valued human beings.
“The ACL agrees with the comments from Labor MP Tom Kenyon that past experience showed controls on euthanasia were relaxed once the practice was legalized.
“So long as parliamentarians are promoting euthanasia as an option, there is no indication that it will be any different in South Australia.
“Euthanasia laws around the world have a track record of being well-intentioned but failing to protect people who are vulnerable to being pressured into dying,” Mr Flynn said.
“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.
“Even the legislation in Oregon, USA, held up by pro-euthanasia groups as a model framework, has pitfalls that South Australians should not ignore.
“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.”
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 ACL understands and shares the desire to see people relieved of their pain, this can be better 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.
“As we see in places such as Oregon, legalising assisted suicide radically alters social norms and gives societal approval, if not encouragement, to suicide.
“The ACL is working with parliamentarians to ensure they are informed of the consequences of introducing any euthanasia laws which have a track record of failing individuals and the community.”
South Australians are encouraged to write to their MPs.