For release: Thursday 22nd August 2013

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has again rejected claims by proponents of voluntary euthanasia that the assisted dying model proposed for Tasmania would be safe.

A report is still to be publicised from a consultation paper released in February ahead of the likely introduction into state parliament of a Private Members’ Bill sponsored by Premier Lara Giddings and Greens leader Nick McKim.

ACL’s Tasmanian Director Mark Brown said parliaments around Australia have knocked back legalised euthanasia in the last four years because of fears euthanasia could never be made safe for vulnerable, sick and elderly patients.

“The relatively short experience of legalised euthanasia in the Northern Territory found safeguards to be ineffectual,” Mr Brown said.

“A report into the practical outworking of the legislation revealed four of the seven people who made use of the Act ‘revealed prominent features of depression, highlighting its strong role in decision-making by those seeking euthanasia. Alarmingly, these patients went untreated by a system preoccupied with meeting the requirements of the Act’s schedules rather than delivering competent medical care to depressed patients’[i].

“According to a Tasmanian Council of Social Services Report, elder abuse is already a growing social problem affecting an estimated 4,000 elderly Tasmanians every year.

“Even with the safeguards of doctor assessments and cooling off periods under the euthanasia legislation proposed, there is still the possibility of coercion,” he said.

Mr Brown also said legislators are not the only ones concerned about the proposed legislation.

“The Australian Medical Association (AMA) and a significant number of doctors oppose such legislation.

“Disability rights groups also have been known to be resistant to legalised euthanasia due to fear such laws would lead to increased pressure to end lives prematurely[i],” he said.


[i] Kissane DW (2002) Deadly days in Darwin, in K. Foley & H. Hendin (Eds.), The Case Against Assisted Suicide, pp. 192-209. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press