It should be abundantly clear by now that the loudest supporters of euthanasia have more interest in giving everybody the ability to end their lives with the blessings of the State rather than having the State fulfil its proper role of protecting the lives of the weak and vulnerable from the obvious dangers that legalised euthanasia would bring.
The blind spot that euthanasia backers have to the clear failure of euthanasia legislation to safeguard against abuse, both here in Australia in the Northern Territory during the 1990s and overseas, are routinely displayed through their contradictory public statements.
When ACL chief of staff Lyle Shelton recently debated Australia’s most prominent promoter of euthanasia Dr Philip Nitschke on ABC News 24, the only physician to have used the provisions of the short-lived Rights of the Terminally Act both rubbished and relied upon his own co-authored journal article in the space of minutes.
Yet an even greater contradiction surfaced during the course of the debate, with Dr Nitschke celebrating the role of proper psychiatric assessment in the euthanasia process, in direct opposition to his unequivocal evidence to a Tasmanian parliamentary inquiry last year.
Speaking about the anomaly of patients allowed to be euthanatized in the Northern Territory despite suffering symptoms of depression, in possible opposition to the law, Dr Nitschke told the ABC audience that patients suffering from a terminal illness should not be denied the right to legally end their lives because of depression:
“But you don’t strip away from them, because they have elements of depression, the right to make decisions. You make sure that they can make rational decisions, and that is why psychiatric assessment was essential.”
By contrast, Dr Nitschke was no fan of mandatory psychiatric assessments in euthanasia law last year, when he told the Tasmanian inquiry if he had his way, he wouldn’t have a psychiatrist involved in the process at all – “Wouldn’t have it at all, yes” (click here
– p. 112).
In that same inquiry hearing, Dr Nitschke also revealed that he was involved in a breach of the Northern Territory euthanasia law, was still willing to have troubled teens assisted to die, and claimed there was no evidence of a slippery slope under Oregon and Holland euthanasia law, only to say, “Maybe there is a slippery slope” in the next line (p. 114).
All of these twists and turns in the euthanasia lobby’s ongoing spin cycle demonstrate that it is now time for the supporters of euthanasia to come clean with the public about what they really intend for legalised euthanasia in this country: under their scheme, who would be eligible and why; where would the line be drawn?
The public, and most importantly the politicians who will decide the outcomes of this issue, must demand answers to the hard questions for the sake of vulnerable elderly and sick Australians. An honest appraisal would show that restricting voluntary euthanasia to only the terminally ill is both arbitrary and impossible, inevitably putting the lives of ever-increasing categories of people at risk.