Image by Darko Stojanovic
Australia is one step closer to having euthanasia legalized, after Victoria became the first state to pass euthanasia legislation in its parliamentary Lower House. There’s still a final vote to fully legalize set to be finalized sometime in the middle of November.
The law—entitled Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017, will be considered by 40 Upper House ministers over the next few weeks, and would allow terminally ill Victorians “with less than 12 months to live and who are suffering unbearable pain to access lethal medication” according to The Age.
Naturally, there’s a lot of debate for this proposed bill, which could have repercussions all throughout Australia. You’ve got Premier Daniel Andrews among those wishing to pass the bill, alongside a majority of the Left-leaning. Ex-Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s against it, much like he’s against almost any law being passed. The only law Abbott seems to wish would pass is one that makes wearing Speedos (swimwear) mandatory uniform for all Australians. He’s joined by ex-Left-leaning Prime Minister Paul Keating in his disapproval for the potential new laws, claiming:
I think we’ll regard this is a sad milestone in our decline as a decent society.
Looking at the proposed law straight-on, you’d have to think Abbott and Keating are absolutely nuts. Abbott, a devout Catholic, would naturally be against this law, just like he’s against the same-sex marriage postal survey. But what’s wrong with legalizing euthanasia for the terminally ill?
Terminally ill people should be allowed to die with dignity. Sometimes palliative care is not enough. What is palliative care? According to Palliative Care Australia, it is a humane approach towards looking after patients with life-threatening illness. It is about caring for those who are suffering, so that they needn’t suffer needlessly. And it only works to a certain extent. Someone who is, for example, in late and terminal stages of cancer can only be helped so much by palliative carers. These people are suffering, and their family and friends are forced to sit by and just watch them suffer. That’s where euthanasia laws are great.
If decided by the terminally ill person, of their own free will and volition, then this Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill should be passed, no problems. They are choosing to pass on their terms, and this should be treated with the utmost respect.
The problem is when they are not deciding of their own free will. You’ve heard of the murderous doctors and nurses—the most notorious being Harold Shipman—who will inject their patients with a little something toxic and voila, they’ve secretly murdered hundreds before they’re caught. I know, this is overly dramatic, but it’s better to take more precautions than none, and be left with the horrifying consequences. If this legislation is to be passed, it must be made sure that doctors and nurses are not coercing the terminally ill into something that is unwanted.
This leads into another problem: family members. You’ve heard of the money-hungry family member that tops off their relative just to cash in on the insurance money. Are there rules and regulations in place to ensure these awful people aren’t going to coerce the terminally ill into ending their lives, just to cash in on insurance policies? In The Age, the Government claims to have policies in place to ensure this would not happen, and we must make sure these policies remain strictly enforced if the law does pass. It should also take into account emotional abuse, which would involve long-term manipulation of the terminally ill patient by the abusive family member.
If we are certain the terminally ill are choosing to die of their own accord, and their hand is not being pulled by others, there is really no reason why this law should not be passed. The main concern lies with those that will abuse this law for their own gains.
Everyone should have options, and palliative care doesn’t always work. If these questions—and any relevant others that may arise—can be answered, why shouldn’t the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill be passed? The terminally ill—provided it is their own choice—should be allowed to die with dignity, rather than suffer in silence.