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Why we oppose it

Australian Parliaments have recognised the inherent dangers of euthanasia, with only one euthanasia proposal over the last 20 years in Australia being passed (with that one being repealed two years later). Since this time, the lived experience of jurisdictions where euthanasia and physician assisted suicide is legalised show that the law cannot contain the abuses stemming from such a radical departure from traditional medical ethics.
 
We reject euthanasia and physician assisted suicide for a variety of reasons, including:
 
Safeguards do not work: Proposed “safeguards” for the use of euthanasia and physician assisted suicide – that the patient be terminally ill, be of sound mind, well informed, free from duress and be able to change their mind at any time – echo the safeguards put in place in Belgium in 2002. In just over a decade, Belgium now allows euthanasia for children, patients with autism, anorexia, borderline personality disorder, chronic-fatigue syndrome, partial paralysis, bi-polar disorder, and people who are “tired of life”. A survey of physicians in Flanders showed 30% of cases occurring without explicit consent. Further studies in the region showed only half of euthanasia cases were reported despite it being legally required. In Oregon, where reporting mechanisms are in place, the 2016 annual report shows that in 75% of cases that year, it is unknown whether a patient was in the presence of a health care provider when the lethal dose was ingested. In addition, in 80% of cases, it is unknown whether any complications were suffered.

The doctor-patient relationship is changed:
The purpose of medicine is to improve a patient’s quality of life not shorten it. The “do no harm” principle establishes a significant bond of trust between doctors and patients. Euthanasia and physician assisted suicide erodes this bond when the person who heals becomes the person who kills or assists a patient to kill themselves. This is confirmed by the World Medical Association, who state that physician assisted suicide and euthanasia, are unethical and must be condemned by the medical profession.

Euthanasia and physician assisted suicide attack the vulnerable:
Loneliness, depression and fear of being a burden consistently list higher than “pain” as reasons for seeking euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. Euthanasia and physician assisted suicide pave the way for easy discrimination of vulnerable groups, including people with disabilities, the elderly, the lonely, and those with mental illnesses and could further reinforce the erroneous belief that the elderly and sick are a burden.

Remote and rural citizens need better care, not euthanasia and physician assisted suicide: Requests for euthanasia and physician assisted suicide can be proportionate to the availability of symptom control. Residents in areas where there is limited palliative care may have their decisions influenced by what is available, rather than what they would prefer.
 
It legalises unjust discrimination: Any change to the law legalising euthanasia and physician assisted suicide would effectively establish a class of people whom it is legally permissible to kill. It would also undermine the efforts of community based (and often government-funded) programs, which seek to prevent suicide with a contradictory message.
 
Real dignity: Our dignity is not dependent on our usefulness or health, but simply on our humanity. Everyone should be loved, supported and cared for until they die. There is nothing truly dignified about being killed or assisted to suicide. Such a death is always a tragedy.
 
 

Resources

When Life is Ending

Real love, care & compassion