Media Release Monday 13th June 2016
The New Zealand Parliamentary Health Select Committee would be prudent to ensure that it is not influenced by the unwise and dangerous recommendation of the Victorian Parliamentary Committee which has asked the State Parliament to give consideration to changing the Crimes Act to allow doctors to kill their patients or assist in their suicide. Right to Life hopes that this new threat to life will be rejected just like all thirty previous proposals in Australian State Parliaments.
The recommendation required the amendment of their Crimes Act which prohibits assisted suicide and homicide; these are serious crimes under that act which provide for terms of lengthy imprisonment.
The report of the Victorian Parliamentary Committee of Enquiry into End of Life Choices was released last week. It included 49 recommendations, 48 of which were protective of life. Recommendation 49 is a threat to the lives of the most vulnerable Victorians; the aged, the disabled and the sick. It recommended that the law be changed to regulate assisted dying, which in the vast majority of cases would involve a doctor prescribing a lethal drug which the patient may then take without further assistance. The singular exception would be where people are physically unable to take a lethal drug themselves. In this case, a doctor would be able to assist the person to die by administering the drug.
The recommendation uses euphemistic language to disguise killing as medical treatment. This is the language of those who seek to change our culture from a sanctity of life ethic to a quality of life ethic. This ethic holds that there are some lives that are not worthy of living.
Euthanasia is not compassionate. Rather it is the admission of a society’s inability to provide proper care to those at the end of life, and it has no place in Victoria. “Assisted Dying” is a euphemistic umbrella term for physician-assisted suicide (PAS) and euthanasia. Technically PAS is when a doctor prescribes a lethal drug for a patient to self-administer while Euthanasia is when a medical professional deliberately kills a patient, usually by administering a lethal drug.
The Australian Medical Association is opposed to this Victorian Parliamentary Committee proposal and considers voluntary assisted dying to be inconsistent with what it sees as the role of doctors as healers. Similarly, the organisation “Doctors Opposed to Euthanasia” in their submission to the Committee maintains that “the prohibition of intentional killing is a bedrock of both the law and medical ethics.”
Right to Life.