THE euthanasia/assisted suicide legislation currently before parliaments in Victoria and NSW are the latest in a long line of attempts to legalise the killing of adults in Australia.
If that sounds jarring that’s because it is.
Irrespective of the euphemism – ‘voluntary assisted dying’ is currently in vogue – what is actually being sought is a dystopian two-tier society: those whose lives we want to preserve and those to whom we are effectively saying ‘you are better off dead’.
Are these particular laws being introduced because better arguments for euthanasia have been found since similar bills were introduced and defeated? No.
On the whole, care for the dying and our knowledge of pain relief has improved.
It would be even better if palliative care resources matched needs, particularly in the regions.
I applaud our current Liberal/National Government for the significant boost to palliative care in this year’s state budget, but more needs to be done.
Yet high quality palliative care does not satisfy advocates. Why? According to the NSW parliamentary working group “the fundamental principle behind the call for legislating to allow for assisted dying is to provide dignity to people who wish to pass peacefully on their own terms”.
In our increasingly individualistic society, emotional appeals to absolute autonomy over our own lives are attractive.
But we are not islands. The choices we make have consequences for others.
It will be the weak – the lonely and the isolated – who will be vulnerable, who will find it difficult to withstand the pressure to relieve others of the burden of their existence.
That is the reality where euthanasia has already been introduced, despite so-called safeguards.
I am a board member of an Orange-based suicide prevention charity that seeks to care for vulnerable people.
Please, let’s not make them even more vulnerable.