Western Australia’s assisted suicide laws came into effect just over a year ago. In that time, over 170 Western Australians have “used the scheme”, according to ABC News.
The Australian Christians are well aware of the argument that euthanasia laws are compassionate — but we strongly disagree. Assisted suicide is not compassionate healthcare.
In jurisdictions that legalise euthanasia under a narrow set of circumstances, those circumstances broaden over time. Often, once-valued protections are later abolished without a second thought.
Consider the Netherlands, which in 2002 became the first jurisdiction in the world to legalise assisted suicide. The New York Times wrote at the time:
Parliament set off a worldwide controversy last April when it voted to legalize a practice the Dutch have tolerated for two decades. Opponents drew scary parallels with the killing of disabled and mentally ill people in Nazi Germany, but Dutch doctors must obey strict rules or face prosecution.
Among the conditions, patients must face a future of unbearable, interminable suffering and must make a voluntary, well-considered request to die. Doctor and patient must be convinced that there is no other solution, another physician must be consulted, and life must be ended in a medically appropriate way.
Just over two decades later, the practice has now been extended to include children all the way down to one year of age. Parental consent is required, but even so, a young child with no capacity to understand what faces them now has the decision to die made by someone else.
The inevitable relaxing of restrictions around euthanasia was made evident in a conversation that took place between a member of the British Parliament and a Dutch doctor about the permissive euthanasia laws in the Netherlands. The doctor explained, “We agonised over our first case of euthanasia all day, but the second case was much easier and the third was a piece of cake.”
Victoria legalised assisted suicide before WA did. Victorian leaders most eager for the change assured the public that very few Victorians would make use of the new laws — and then, only in extreme circumstances. A year later, however, it was admitted that ten times the number of assisted suicides took place than were anticipated.
All in the name of compassion, of course.
Former Prime Minister Paul Keating has said, “Once termination of life is authorised the threshold is crossed. From that point it is much easier to liberalise the conditions governing the law. And liberalised they will be.”
His words have proven true.
Former Senator for Queensland Amanda Stoker has warned that legalising assisted suicide “means that when a person becomes dependent because of their age, their illness or their disability, a social pressure will inevitably emerge for that person.”
Queensland GP Dr David van Gend agrees. Speaking from personal experience, he has said, “The lonely old people I see in nursing homes have a keen sense of being a burden. They would perceive euthanasia less a ‘right to die’ and more as a ‘duty to die’.”
The issue of euthanasia is especially problematic for Indigenous Australians. Before the passage of WA’s laws, Labor Senator and the ‘Father of Aboriginal Reconciliation’ Pat Dodson, voiced his grave concerns.
In a passionate plea in the Weekend Australian, he declared, “Aboriginal people do not need a new avenue to death”.
The Senator argued that euthanasia only adds to an already-long list of obstacles to the longevity of Indigenous Australians:
First Australians live shorter lives. Their babies are likelier to die of preventable diseases. They watch their friends, cousins and siblings prematurely end their own lives…
One simply cannot bear witness to this reality — where First Nations are overrepresented at every stage of our health and criminal justice systems — and put forward another avenue to death. As representatives and legislators, surely we must be focusing our attention on enacting laws that help prolong life and restore the right to enjoy a healthy life.
We couldn’t agree more with Senator Pat Dodson’s remarks. Euthanasia opens more avenues for death. The Australian Christians want to promote laws that prolong and enhance life.
The major parties have failed Australians, legislating death all around the country. At best, the Liberals have offered paltry protections that will inevitably be erased in the coming years.
Take a stand for life. Join the Australian Christians in our pledge to honour the aged and the suffering and support them in their hour of need.