How we care for people, especially the elderly, the vulnerable and those who are suffering terminal illness says a lot about us as a society.
Currently in Tasmania’s Parliament an inquiry into palliative care is underway with ACL’s Tasmanian Director Mark Brown providing both written and oral submissions.
The Standing Committee on Community Development is examining palliative care generally, as well as advance care directives for the administration of medical treatment to minors, emergency medical treatment and anything incidental to these issues.
In considering these complex and often personally challenging issues it is essential that the legal framework and public health resources are directed toward the good of the patient. This is especially important when we consider that those needing medical treatment and care towards the end of their life are some of the most vulnerable members of society.
ACL’s submission focused on the need to uphold good principles of palliative care with a focus on human dignity; the concept that all human beings have an intrinsic worth by virtue of being human.
An understanding of human dignity is essential given the relatively recent usurpation of the word by euthanasia campaigners who misrepresent the meaning of the word such that it is used as code for the deliberate taking of life, either through assisted suicide or euthanasia.
A true understanding of dignity from its natural law foundation acknowledges the inherent value in every person regardless of their physical or mental capacity.
In contrast, euthanasia campaigners take a utilitarian approach toward their use of the word ‘dignity’ and view some lives as having more worth than others, which means that once the person believes the utility of comfort or capacity is no longer optimal they can legitimately take their own life or permit another to take it.
As Christians who believe that man is created in the image and likeness of God, we know that we are endowed with inherent dignity and each and every human life is sacred.
ACL’s submission also examined in detail the poor outcomes in jurisdictions who have adopted legalised euthanasia.
Good quality palliative care is the compassionate response and allows those with a chronic terminal illness or disability to access pain relief and management to die comfortably in a home or hospice setting, if they so choose.
Any solution to end-of-life care that intentionally seeks to end a patient’s life as a solution to suffering must be rejected. Such solutions violate the inherent dignity of the patient.