On 1 January, Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) became eligible for Queenslanders.
Due to the hustle and bustle of the Christmas period, this piece of legislation may have slipped under the radar for most people in the state, but make no mistake, this is a historic milestone - and a disastrous one at that. For the first time in Queensland’s history, euthanasia have become a form of ‘health care’.
Along with the decriminalisation of abortion in recent years, VAD further expands on what Pope John Paul II identified as the ‘Culture of Death', which has permeated its way through the states’ healthcare system. One may wonder how this new legislation will affect Queensland in both the short and long term? Well, there is one country that does provide insight as to what the future may hold and that is Canada.
MAID’s Rapid Rise
In Canada, euthanasia or MAID (Medical Assistance in Dying) was introduced in 2017. Within the same year, there were 2,838 MAID patients.[i] In 2021, just four years later, more than 10,000 people ended their lives through MAID. Euthanasia is responsible for over 3% of deaths in Canada.[ii]
From Last Resort to First Option
As MAID becomes more widely accepted, concerns are being raised. Dr. Ewan Goligher, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Physiology (University of Toronto), writes MAID ‘is no longer seen as a desperate option of last resort but rather as one “therapeutic option” among many’.[iii] He adds that ‘some patients with disabilities or mental illness reported that assisted death was proposed to them without their instigation.’[iv]
Furthermore, Dr. Kevin Yuill, Associate Professor of American Studies (University of Sunderland) notes: ‘Tragically, MAID is increasingly being seen as a solution to people’s distress, no matter the cause.’[v] He adds, ‘In August, for example, an army veteran seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury was rightly outraged to be offered MAID by an employee of Veterans Affairs Canada, entirely unprompted.’[vi] The shift away from being a last resort is slowly being prescribed as an answer to all forms of distress. This is a warning to Queenslanders.
Canada’s Delay On Mental Health Expansion
Disturbingly, there was a plan in place from March 2023 onwards to extend MAID for mental health issues. However, by God’s grace, these plans have been delayed indefinitely, with Justice Minister David Lametti having heard from medical experts that the healthcare system could not handle the number of patients.[vii]
Yet, the tragic demand for MAID for mental health problems is notable. Yuill writes that, ‘In 2021, for instance, 17.3 per cent of people cited ‘isolation or loneliness’ as a reason for wanting MAID. In 35.7 per cent of cases, patients believed that they were a ‘burden on family, friends or caregivers’.[viii] Dr. John Maher, a psychiatrist and editor of the Journal of Ethics in Mental Health, adds his shock when a patient discussed the possibility of turning to MAID ‘because of his belief no one will ever love him’.[ix] One wonders how long until Canada buckles under the pressure of demand. This is a warning to Queenslanders.
The Jennyfer Hatch Story
Of course, this is all tragic reading. Yet, what underpins the whole discussion is a flawed theory of health care as a solution to a broken system. When philosophical discussion passes into legislation that affects the lives of real people, we can expect heart-breaking stories to emerge. One such story is that of Jennyfer Hatch.[x]
Jennyfer gained national and international attention when she ‘starred’ in an elegant film entitled The Most Beautiful Exit. Bankrolled as part of a marketing campaign by a well-known Canadian fashion chain called La Maison Simons, it was essentially a visual homage to MAID.
However, despite the stunning visuals, the melodic music, and the enlightened narrative, behind the scenes everything was not what it appeared. What the ad fails to mention is the reason Jennyfer chose death was because she was abandoned by the Canadian healthcare system.
Speaking at her memorial service, her friend Tama Racker said “She was such a fierce advocate for her own health and she was let down over and over and over again.”[xi] She added, “Our (health-care) system is very broken and part of what Jennyfer wanted to do is get people talking.”[xii]
In fact, as already reported by Michael Cook of Mercatornet, Jennyfer wanted to live. Speaking to CTVnews, she said:
“I thought, ‘Goodness, I feel like I’m falling through the cracks so if I’m not able to access health care am I then able to access death care?’ And that’s what led me to look into MAID and I applied last year”.[xiii] Tragically, her suffering was validated enough to be accepted for MAID but not a good enough reason for additional state services.
In Canada, there are many more stories like Jennyfers. Medical Press highlights that many are choosing MAID ‘not to avoid suffering from illness, but because society had failed to provide them a chance to live with dignity.’[xiv] Again, a warning to Queenslanders.
What Can Queenslanders Expect?
Tragically, the Queensland Government has now adopted the same philosophy of healthcare as Canada. Death is no longer the tragic result of disease and suffering; it has now become a “cure”. As of 1 January this year, healthcare providers and practioners will now be offering, prescribing, and providing patients death within the arsenal of their medications.
So what can Queenslanders expect? In the coming months and years, a litany of tragic stories will be told just like Jennyfers. Stories where patients are prescribed death as a solution to their suffering rather than a healthcare system that actually cares for the health of their patients.
Plans are already in place to facilitate the demand for euthanasia. Due to a federal law that prohibits ‘inciting or counseling suicide over the phone’, for the most remote areas, doctors with expertise in euthanasia will be flown in to administer the fatal procedure.[xv] Of course, this is all at the expense of the Queensland Taxpayer.
Commenting on the alarming strategy, Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge tweeted: “So the Queensland government has decided to send FIFO medicos into regional areas to euthanise people but not a dollar for better palliative care… airfares and death are cheaper, I guess.”[xvi] The Archbishop’s tweet highlights the controversial nature of this policy.
What Can We Do?
We must demand that the Queensland government, unlike Canada, instead of offering death, should invest money in the very best medical and palliative care system that money can afford. This is true health care, not getting rid of people in their time of greatest need.
For churches and society at large, as Dr. Goligher writes, Queensland needs:
‘… communities where assisted death is inconceivable because the weak, the aged, the disabled, and the dying are regarded as priceless members of the community. We can be a place where those who suffer enjoy the devoted companionship, love, and support that reminds them of their value and bears them up through pain. This is, after all, what all of us long for.’[xvii]
How To Respond?
Whom To Contact – We urge supporters to write, email or telephone their Queensland Member of the House of Representatives and/or your 12 Senators (in Federal Parliament).
Raise Awareness – More Queenslanders need to be aware of the effect of Voluntary Assisted Dying and the stories of individuals like Jennyfer. Therefore, please share this article as widely as you can, with all your friends and on social media platforms.
Support Cherish Life - Either by volunteering or financial donation (or both) as we seek to provide a voice for these unjust laws and advocate for alternative options to VAD.
Prayer - Finally, we would ask those who are Christians reading this article to keep this recent development of VAD in your prayers. Ask God for His intervention and ask others within your church community to do the same.
[i] MacPherson, James. “Death: a dystopian love affair,” Accessed February 13, 2023, https://www.spectator.com.au/2022/12/death-a-dystopian-love-affair/
[ii] Douthat, Ross. “What Euthanasia Has Done to Canada,” Accessed February 13, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/03/opinion/canada-euthanasia.html
[iii] Goligher, Ewan C. “Canada Euthanized 10,000 People in 2021. Has Death Lost Its Sting?,” Accessed February 13, 2023, https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2022/november/canada-euthanized-10000-people-in-2021-maid-assisted-suicid.html?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=post&utm_campaign=article
[v] Yuill, Kevin. “How Canada became a world leader in euthanasia,” Accessed February 13, 2023, https://www.spiked-online.com/2022/10/26/how-canada-became-a-world-leader-in-euthanasia/
[vii] Gaind Sonu, Karandeep. “Canada delays expanding medical assistance in dying to include mental illness,” Accessed February 13, 2023. https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-12-canada-delays-medical-dying-mental.html
[viii] Yuill, Kevin. “How Canada became a world leader in euthanasia,” Accessed February 13, 2023, https://www.spiked-online.com/2022/10/26/how-canada-became-a-world-leader-in-euthanasia/
[ix] Yuill, Kevin. “How Canada became a world leader in euthanasia,” Accessed February 13, 2023, https://www.spiked-online.com/2022/10/26/how-canada-became-a-world-leader-in-euthanasia/
[x] Cook, Michael. “A Canadian retailer exploits a young artist’s euthanasia to market its fashions,” Accessed February 13, 2023, https://mercatornet.com/a-canadian-retailer-exploits-a-young-artists-euthanasia-to-market-its-fashions/81559/
[xi] Cook, Michael. “Jennyfer’s story: better off dead,” Accessed February 13, 2023, https://mercatornet.com/jennyfers-story-better-off-dead/82166/
[xiv] Gaind Sonu, Karandeep. “Canada delays expanding medical assistance in dying to include mental illness,” Accessed February 13, 2023. https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-12-canada-delays-medical-dying-mental.html
[xv] Bowling, Mark. “It’s a ‘death regime’ say Queensland bishop opposed to government plan to fly in doctors to help terminally ill patients end their lives,” Accessed February 13, 2023. https://catholicleader.com.au/news/its-a-death-regime-say-queensland-bishop-opposed-to-government-plan-to-fly-in-doctors-to-help-terminally-ill-patients-end-their-lives/
[xvii] Goligher, Ewan C. “Canada Euthanized 10,000 People in 2021. Has Death Lost Its Sting?,” Accessed February 13, 2023, https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2022/november/canada-euthanized-10000-people-in-2021-maid-assisted-suicid.html?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=post&utm_campaign=article