The Australian Christian Lobby has warned against moves to push the euthanasia agenda on the Queensland Parliament.
Responding to reports that Queensland Speaker Peter Wellington has called for a parliamentary inquiry into euthanasia, ACL Queensland Director Wendy Francis warned against removing current safeguards.
“Euthanasia laws around the world have a track record of being well-intentioned but failing to protect vulnerable people being pressured to die,” Ms Francis said.
“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.
“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,” Ms Francis said.
“Even the legislation in Oregon, USA, held up by pro-euthanasia groups as a model framework, has pitfalls that Queenslanders 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.”
Ms Francis 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,” Ms Francis 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 will be seek to take part in the Parliamentary inquiry to ensure that the Committee is informed of the consequences of introducing any euthanasia laws which have a track record of failing individuals and the community.”