The Australian Christian Lobby values and supports every human life, particularly at the end of life when research for cures and world’s best palliative care should be the priority.

Last week we saw the tragic news that 52 Victorians ended their lives in the first 6 months of their new assisted suicide regime. This figure far exceeded the toll estimated by the architects of the scheme.

We mourn these deaths and are disheartened that some want even more deaths. Assisted suicide advocates are urging more euthanasia service providers in country Victoria.

We need to take a very deep breath. A great many of these deaths were physician-assisted suicide. The Victorian government assured us that doctors would only have to administer the suicide drugs in the rarest of cases. Doctors are now expected to kill their patients.

As we have seen in many debates of this nature, what the advocates once said would never be necessary is now what they want. They soothe us into accepting one radical change by saying that’s as far as we go, but as sure as night follows day, they bob up soon after they get their first wish, and list another. In this instance, the assisted suicide advocates said doctors would be protected from having to raise euthanasia with their patients. Now – that’s what they are calling for.

The Victorian report also highlighted how not all family members supported suicide, but watched on as it happened, nonetheless.  We are desensitising people. The news coverage about these deaths ends on the confused note that these euthanasia deaths are okay, but seek help if you are contemplating suicide.

Assisted suicide advocates were last week also urging the Federal Government to overturn the ban on using a telephone service to promote suicide. The endgame is clear – unrestricted, suicide on demand.

Already we have a foretaste of the more aggressive model for assisted suicide via the bill proposed for Tasmania by Mike Gaffney MLC. The bill goes much further than the current models legalised in Victoria and Western Australia. In those states, a person must be terminally ill and have only 6-12 months to live. Mr Gaffney’s bill expands beyond that, removing the terminal illness requirement. People who have an irreversible medical condition could access euthanasia. There is no need for a psychiatric assessment. Euthanasia ‘medical advice’ could be by video link, a process with no rigour. Fortunately, telecommunications services cannot be used to promote suicide – though advocates are also looking to overturn that law as well.

Then we have the nightmare on the horizon if Mr Gaffney’s bill becomes law. It proposes, after 2 years of euthanasia being given to adults, consideration be given to extending it to children.

Lord, have mercy.

The advocates’ desires are now clear – more aggressive laws, the moment they have passed supposedly sedate versions. 

Queensland Labor members are pushing Premier Palaszczuk to pass euthanasia laws there before their State Election on 31 October this year.

New South Wales politicians are considering introducing a bill. Nationals MP Trevor Khan was starting a ‘cross-party’ working group to legalise assisted suicide but was rebuked by party leadership for doing so while public concern was squarely and rightly focused on bushfire relief.

South Australia has doggedly resisted near-annual attempts to legalise euthanasia, with another push undoubtedly on its way.

For years ACL has highlighted the dangers of euthanasia from regimes that have come into force overseas. Now, tragically, we have Australian examples of how much further advocates want to go.

We have a huge 2020 ahead of us to halt the march of assisted suicide laws and to advocate for world’s best palliative care, pain relief and compassion for our suffering fellow Australians.

Readers can contact Lifeline 24 hours a day online and on 13 11 14. Other services include the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467, Beyond Blue and Kids Helpline (for people aged five to 25) on 1800 55 1800.

The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement can be contacted on 1800 642 066.