We are moving ever closer to the Assisted Suicide Bill being moved in parliament — last week saw the release of the Ministerial Advisory Panel’s report. If we are to win this battle it is vital that MPs understand the reality of the risk of abuse of vulnerable people, of the elderly, seriously or chronically ill, those living with a disability being made to feel that they are a burden. People across Victoria are already doing great work providing feedback to members of parliament and we all need to continue taking action.
What really happens to vulnerable people
Here are some real life examples of the reality for vulnerable people. These abuses are already happening and their prevalence would only increase under an assisted suicide regime.
- A nursing home resident, approximately 60, suffered a stroke and was not given any assistance when he began choking on food. No medical help was sought and no usual emergency procedures (such as suctioning) were applied. The distressed resident took about 3 hours to die.
- A care facility sought guardianship of a disabled man whose sister had medical power of attorney and had cared for him lovingly for many years. The sister was excluded from medical decisions regarding her brother and was worried about what might happen if/when her brother became ill.
- A relative of a disabled patient in a hospital had Medical Power of Attorney but was horrified to find medical staff had put a Do Not Resuscitate instruction on his medical file without the relative’s consent.
If you have had any similar experiences please ring the Australian Family Association (03 9816 0800) and ask for Terri Kelleher, or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let her know. Any further real life scenarios would be powerful in bringing MPs to understand the very real dangers of the proposed legislation. Full confidentiality is assured.
Why we need to act
- It is against the will of God to kill or assist self-killing.
- Only the barbaric kill their wounded. Imagine you are a soldier in a war and one of your mates is seriously injured. Would you shoot them to put them out of their misery, or do all you can to get them to medical help?
- Do we want to open-up a world where cash-strapped governments can use euthanasia to reduce the cost of palliative care for the elderly and infirm?
- Do we want the elderly to feel the pressure of having to justify their existence?
- At the end of their lives people should be cared for with excellent palliative care and surrounded by a circle of loving relatives, not bumped off. Capacity already exists in the last stages of palliative care to withdraw medical intervention and keep people pain free while nature takes its course. This is quite different to a fatal injection or being prescribed a poisonous cocktail.
- In other countries where euthanasia laws have been enacted, safeguards have been progressively watered-down. The terminally-ill boundary always gets pushed out wherever euthanasia is legalised. In Victoria arguments are already being advanced that there are too many safeguards in the proposed legislation!
- Medical professionals are healers not killers. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is opposed to euthanasia & assisted suicide.
- Medical killing sends a dangerous message to people living with disabilities that some lives are not worth living and that suicide and euthanasia is an option that society supports and encourages.
- So-called “safeguards” in medical killing legislation are never safe. Experience from The Netherlands, Belgium and Oregon show that safeguards to medical killing cannot be legislated.
- Once established in law, more and more people look to assisted suicide as the solution. In The Netherlands euthanasia laws initially had tight boundaries. Today people with disabilities, mental illness or who are “tired of living” and even newborns with spina bifida are being killed.
- Vulnerable people are put at risk by medical killing. Legitimising state approved killing by making it legal could put indirect pressure on such people. The risks to the many outweigh the purported individual rights of the few.
- The reality of elder abuse in our community means that assisted suicide may be used by relatives as a means of gaining inheritance. There is no foolproof way of ensuring people are not being coerced into ending their lives.
- The Orthodox Churches’ Teaching on Euthanasia
- The Australian Medical Association opposes Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide
- The World Medical Association opposes Euthanasia and Doctor Assisted Suicide
- Palliative Care is effective in controlling end of life pain
- There are many myths promulgated by euthanasia advocates
- Explore the awareness-raising campaign that defeated the Euthanasia bill in Tasmania
- Review the euthanasia debate by Margaret Somerville, Professor of Bioethics in the School of Medicine at The University of Notre Dame, Sydney.
- Read the euthanasia statement by the CEO of Mercy Hospital.
- Why Euthanasia must be rejected, by Dr. Rachel Carling-Jenkins.
Take heart, this fight can be won. All Euthanasia bills before US State Legislatures have been defeated or deferred in the last 12 months!
Here are four ways you can take action:
- Write to your MP online.
- Sign the ACL petition for a plebiscite on euthanasia.
- Download the Australian Family Association paper petition to oppose Euthanasia. Print it out. Sign it. Invite others to sign it. Return it to PO Box 2032, Brighton North, 3186.
- Visit NoEuthanasia.org.