The Victorian Parliament should reject a parliamentary committee recommendation to allow euthanasia because well-intentioned safeguards in other countries have been found not to protect people who are vulnerable to being pressured into dying.
The warning from the Australian Christian Lobby, came as the Legal and Social Issues Committee today handed down its recommendations which included “that the Victorian Government introduce a legal framework providing for assisted dying.”
ACL Victorian Director Dan Flynn said the committee was misguided to suggest it was possible to introduce ‘safe’ euthanasia legislation.
“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,” Mr Flynn said.
“Even the legislation in Oregon, USA, held up by pro-euthanasia groups as a model framework, has pitfalls that the Victorian Parliament 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.”
Mr Flynn 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,” Mr Flynn 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.
“The ACL supports the report in so far as it calls for greater attention on the provision of palliative care but believes the report oversteps the mark by advancing the idea that it is possible to liberalise euthanasia law without putting pressure to die on the vulnerable.
“The inclusion of a recommendation for euthanasia and assisted suicide is completely at odds with the rest of the report and appears inconsistent with the report’s thrust to provide the best care possible.
“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 working closely with Parliamentarians to ensure that they are informed of the consequences of introducing any euthanasia laws which have a track record of failing individuals and the community.”
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