“The Queensland Parliament Health Committee’s recommendation that assisted suicide legislation be enacted is reckless and dangerous, perhaps even more so now that we are in the midst of a pandemic,” Cherish Life president Dr Donna Purcell said.
“The Queensland Government needs to be fully focused on saving lives, not taking them,
“The Queensland Health Committee’s End-of-Life Inquiry scandalously failed to address adequately the real end-of-life issue facing Queenslanders, which is the gross under-resourcing of palliative care services.
“Queensland needs at least an extra $150 million per year in palliative care funding, as we only have 0.7 palliative care specialists per 100,000 population, while the need is for almost triple that number.
“Some Queenslanders, particularly those in regional and remote communities, are suffering needlessly because of extremely poor resource allocation by this government, and it seems this is to continue.
“No Queenslanders should be forced to choose euthanasia because they cannot get access to palliative care which would ease their pain.
“Instead of additional funding for palliative care, the four Labor/Greens members of the Health Committee recommended assisted suicide as the end-of-life care ‘cure’, rejecting the expert opinion of the vast majority of doctors, including the Australian Medical Association and World Medical Association, who are opposed to euthanasia because it is killing, not health care.
“It is obvious that the committee’s recommendation to legalise euthanasia was a pre-determined outcome, with the majority of the committee taking a short cut and ignoring proper process by recommending a draft Bill put up by euthanasia advocates rather than requesting the Queensland Law Reform Commission to design the legislation.
“In this euthanasia Bill recommended by the Health Committee, there is no requirement that patients requesting euthanasia be seen by a specialist in their disease, or by a palliative care specialist to ensure they are receiving adequate pain relief, or by a psychiatrist to ensure they are not suffering depression.
“There are no safeguards against wrongful deaths, caused by wrong diagnosis, wrong prognosis, patients being unaware of available treatment or having no access to palliative care, or coercion and elder abuse.
“The misnomer “assisted dying” hides what euthanasia really is - intentional killing by lethal injection administered by doctors, or doctors providing poison for the patient to take.
“Doctors should kill the pain, not the patient.”
“Euthanasia is a social construct, not health care..." Dr Greg Parker, - Director Metro South Palliative Care Services
Legalising euthanasia corrupts the role of doctor by changing it from healer to killer. The devastation it would cause to medicine is unfathomable and far-reaching.
Euthanasia it is social construct built upon a fear of suffering, extreme libertarian thinking and economic rationalism - which has the crude premise: it’s cheaper to give a sick, elderly or disabled person a lethal injection or two poisonous pills than to pay for months or years of support. Euthanasia’s origins are clearly sinister and evil...
The euthanasia lobby builds its case by showcasing agonising death stories, and the media laps it up. What the media never showcases are the thousands of Queenslanders who, although having terminal illness, experience peaceful and painless deaths with good palliative support. Nor does the media adequately address the major palliative care deficit in Queensland which is most experienced in the regions. Palliative care specialist Professor Philip Good recently stated on ABC radio that Queensland should have the equivalent of two palliative specialists for every 100,000 people, but we have only 0.7.
And what we almost never heard about is growing catalogue of horrendous euthanasia stories from abroad, here are just a few:
- When assisted suicide was legalised in Belgium and the Netherlands, they were meant for people in unbearable suffering from terminal illnesses like cancer, and euthanasia was to be provided with careful oversight plus prolonged close consultation between patient and doctor. However, doctors have now been killing patients they have hardly known or examined, many of whom have mental health issues like depression, anorexia or autism/Aspergers, not terminal illnesses. In 2012, 42 people with dementia and 13 with psychiatric issues were medically terminated in the Netherlands. A right-to-die group organised 30 mobile teams to make house calls to people who wanted to die but whose family doctors were unwilling to participate. One of the people killed by this team was a 63-year-old man with no family or friends, who was afraid of a lonely life after retirement. Another was a 54-year-old woman with a pathological fear of germs, who found her obsession with cleanliness debilitating.
- A Belgian was euthanised (i.e. killed) in 2013 after she became suicidal, claiming a sex change operation to turn her into a man had turned her into a “monster”.
- On 19 April 2012, 64-year-old retired schoolteacher Godelieva De Troyer received a lethal injection at a Brussels hospital. She had no incurable illness or chronic pain. It was simply chronic depression. Her family was not informed in advance; her son Tom Mortier only discovered this when he was asked to deal with paperwork the following day.
- Netherlands: A 74-year-old woman who was suffering dementia grew violent in a nursing home away from her family. Her gerontologist noted: “Only when her family was with her did the patient find life acceptable.” A few weeks after she entered the home, her gerontologist and a consulting psychiatrist agreed that she was suffering intolerably and met the requirements for euthanasia, although she had never submitted a formal request to die. Her husband and daughter agreed.
- 29-year-old Dutchwoman Aurelia Brouwers, who suffered intense depression since she was 12, coupled with repeated self-harm, anxiety, psychoses and hearing voices, was allowed to be euthanised at the Levenseindekliniek. She had been in prison (for arson) for over 2 years without therapy.
- A man in his 30s whose only diagnosis was autism became one of 110 people to be euthanized for mental disorders in the Netherlands between 2011 and 2014.
- In Belgium, 38-year-old Tine Nys was killed just for having Aspergers. The doctor fumbled with the needle and asked her parents to help hold it in place while he administered the lethal injection. He then asked them to use a stethoscope to confirm their daughter's heart had stopped.
- In one 2017 Belgian case, a man in late middle-age with dementia signed an advanced directive for euthanasia when his condition became worse. His doctor recounted: “As his mind faltered, however, so did his resolve – which did not please his wife, who became an evangelist for her husband’s death. He must have changed his mind 20 times. I saw the pressure she was applying.” The doctor tried to protect her patient, but while she was away, her colleague euthanised him.
Euthanasia is the intentional killing of a human being, whether it be by the physician or through assisting the person to commit suicide. It's important to note that euthanasia is not refusing treatment, ceasing treatment for a terminally ill or critically injured person, nor unintentionally hastening death by administering strong pain relief such as morphine to a terminally ill person.
Euthanasia is a form of killing, usually assisted- killing. Euthanasia, like abortion, corrupts the ethos of medicine which fundamentally exists for the health and longevity of human beings. It is so dangerous and contrary to good medical practice that all the peak medical bodies in Australia and overseas are opposed to it, here is the Australian Medical Association's position statement against euthanasia.
Euthanasia advocates give the false impression that terminally ill patients have to suffer excruciating pain and dreadful agony. This is simply not the case with the advanced palliative care available today in Australia.
The misnomer “assisted dying” attempts to obscure the fact we are talking about killing. Terms like "Dying with Dignity" the euthanasia lobby often calls itself in Australia is highly deceptive, inferring that is it dignified to legalise killing and that a natural death is somehow undignified. Euthanasia signals that that the value of life is determined by ability and health, and diminishes when those things are compromised, this dangerous philosophy is simply not true. Legalising euthanasia would also be counter-productive to combating Australia's suicide epidemic.
Euthanasia is a slippery slope, it always starts off with narrow parameters and over time broadens as difficult cases present. This has been seen overseas - for example in Belgium and The Netherlands they are now euthanasing children. There are no effective safeguards when it comes to euthanasia.
Those who experience isolation and depression most are at highest risk of ideas of suicide, euthanasia exposes these already vulnerable people to further risks and feelings of worthlessness. Euthanasia is also open to terrible abuse, the vulnerable elderly and the disabled are at risk of coercion and feeling like they are a "burden", it also damages the trust between doctor and patient.
Queensland is very under-resourced when it comes to palliative care specialists and aged care facilities. This is what the government should be addressing, not looking at ways to kill people. What Queenslanders need is care, not killing - which is exactly what euthanasia is.
Euthanasia could easily be explained as “abortion at the other end of life”. The subjects are dehumanised and therefore able to be treated as being lesser human beings, and be disregarded without too much concern. The arguments for both have the same modus operandi.
The Euthanasia debate is always emotional
Proponents of euthanasia use emotional arguments to sell their case because the cold hard facts are condemning, as euthanasia, just like abortion, is in fact taking of life. Emotional buy-in is sought because once the bait is taken; the rational processing of facts is suspended.
Euthanasia and “assisted suicide” activists will give examples of intolerable suffering and pain. Sometimes this happens because the condition simply isn’t managed properly. The reality is that, for a palliative care professional, genuinely untreatable pain is a very rare event, and even these cases further sedation options are available to help to make the dying process tolerable.
Good palliative care can make a world of difference, as it improves the quality of life for patients who are suffering near the end of life. Palliative care is a specialty of medicine often overlooked in budget allocation; sadly there is a shortage of palliative specialists and carers in Queensland. Some recipients of good palliative care can go onto make a remarkable recovery - at Cabrini Health’s palliative care facility in Melbourne, half of their palliative care patients actually walk back out the front door after treatment.
So what’s the euthanasia debate really about?
It’s all about suicide. What activists are really asking for is an exception to the Criminal Code against homicide so they can get someone else to perform the deed.
Not only is this legalisation prone to abuses including elder abuse, it suffers from scope creep, corrupts healthy medical culture, and is inherently dangerous, as evidenced by the over 60 “safeguards” written into the Victorian legislation.
Euthanasia activist groups have always been about suicide. In the US, the Compassion and Choices organisation was originally known as the Hemlock Society until 2003 when it changed its name. In Australia, the right-to-die societies have mostly taken on the Dying With Dignity naming and have hidden their classes on how to die, so they will no longer be seen as extreme and politicians will be prepared to deal with them.
The outlier on how-to-die workshops is Australia's “Dr Death” Philip Nitschke, whom the other groups dare not mention. Having abandoned the legislative approach, he’s taken the technology route instead and has no reason to be anything less than intellectually honest as to what it’s all about.
Euthanasia and its euphemistic step-sister “assisted suicide” undermines government and community efforts to curtail the Australian suicide epidemic.
Ultimately, this is about killing people. We need to be strong and consistent in our stand to protect human life from conception to natural death.