Look no further – the slippery slope is already here.
Proposed legislation for assisted suicide laws will be tabled in Queensland’s parliament this coming week with a vote expected in September after a 12 week period of consultation. Reports indicate that this legislation will be the most liberal euthanasia laws in our nation, with the following inclusions:
- The scope of eligibility to access euthanasia has been widened, including “mental suffering.”
- Earlier access to death is being allowed for the terminally ill (eligibility period has been doubled to 12 months rather than 6 months).
- Despite the Parliamentary Committee recommendation that any voluntary assisted dying scheme in Queensland stipulates that 'discussion with a medical practitioner about accessing voluntary assisted dying can be instigated only by the person wishing to access voluntary assisted dying,’ the Queensland ALP bill will allow doctors, who are the trusted, primary care givers for most Australians, to initiate a discussion about assisted suicide with vulnerable patients.
Despite Palliative Care Queensland and Australian Medical Association Queensland’s advice that an extra $275m is required each year to deliver quality, accessible palliative care services for all Queenslanders, the focus on providing good quality palliative care is sadly lacking, with a massive funding deficit required to give equal access to palliative care across the state.
With one of the highest suicide rates in the nation - and with suicide being the leading cause of death for Australians between 15 and 44 - a question that needs to be asked is when did we, as a humane society, ever accept the lie that suicide is the dignified way to end your life?
Assisted suicide invites coercion and puts vulnerable people at risk of abuse. It is not difficult to foresee frail elderly people feeling like they are a 'burden' on others due to financial concerns or family dynamics.
Every Queenslander wants to see expert care and pain relief provided for those who are suffering. Putting them to death is not the answer. Expert palliative care is. Until that is provided for every Queenslander, the talk of assisting them to suicide is not compassionate, it is cruel.