The euthanasia debate has almost come to an end in the Australian state of Victoria after the assisted dying bill was passed in the Upper House. The bill was passed twenty-two votes to eighteen, far more decisive than the recent New South Wales bill, which was rejected twenty votes to nineteen in their Upper House. According to The Guardian, it is likely the law will be passed, and the passing in the Lower House is just a formality, as members comfortably passed the bill forty-seven to thirty-seven just last month.
If passed, the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill will be passed into law from June nineteen, 2019, allowing terminally ill Victorians with less than six months to live (or twelve months for neurodegenerative illness) to request a prescription for a lethal drug injection. This is the first attempt to get as far as it has, with over fifty bills rejected by various State Governments over the last two decades.
There’s been a lot of debate—and lots of arguments—about the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill. Some opponents have claimed this could lead to a “death industry” and some people will manipulate these new laws for malevolent reasons. These are all relevant claims. In a previous article by The Fifty Percent Review, we raised the issue of how this new law could be exploited to harm the vulnerable. However, there seems to be relevant safeguards in place to prevent mistreatment of the terminally ill: they must be of “decision making capacity”, have lived in Victoria for at least a year, and must also be “experiencing suffering that cannot be relieved in a way acceptable to them”. In order to make sure the terminally ill person is doing this of their own volition, they must make three requests, including one in writing and another in which experienced doctors much make their own assessment of said person. While this is not foolproof, it does mean that it is more difficult for the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill to be misused and abused. Experienced doctors will be more likely to understand if the terminally ill person is facing pressure from, say, someone who wishes to cash in on their life insurance. However, emotional and elderly abuse are some of the hardest forms of abuse to notice, and we must worry if doctors are able to spot these before it’s too late.
This is great news, especially after Australia just voted in a plebiscite (non-binding postal vote) to overwhelmingly support same-sex marriage. While we used to be at the forefront of change—being one of the first countries in the world to allow women the right to vote—we’ve been lacking a little lately, and it doesn’t help that Australian Governments (Federal, State and Local) have been passing some pretty iffy laws. Victoria is the same state going ahead with dangerous Gender Studies indoctrination of primary (elementary) and secondary (middle/high) school students, as well as local governments who have banned local celebrations without consultation of their constituents.
To support the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill does not mean you wish to see a “death industry”, as Bernie Finn calls it, or “to allow killing as a form of medical treatment”, as Australian Christian Lobby’s (an incredibly conservative Christian group) Lyle Shelton stated.
Lyle Shelton does raise a point in that we must make sure the euthanasia medicines do what they are intended: help the terminally ill end their lives in a quick, comfortable manner. What will we do if these medicines fail and someone suffers a death more excruciating than what they are already suffering? If these drugs are being administered by knowledgeable and empathic pharmacists and chemists—and not twenty-first century Harold Shipmans—then there should be no problem. For the most part, Lyle Shelton just appears as if he is fearmongering, attempting to scare politicians into second-guessing their vote. This is a terrible behavior also seen in the same-sex marriage debate, in which the Left scare-mongered potential No voters (by labeling them bigots and Nazis if they dared vote No) and the Right scare-mongered potential Yes voters (think about the children! THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN!!).
Please, people, we must look at the facts. Sometimes palliative care is not enough, even though the Andrews State Government has announced a boost of AUD$62 million in support to palliative care over the next five years. When somebody is dying of a terminal illness, there is only so much that others can do. With this law, we give ordinary citizens the same opportunity afforded to even our pets. If our ailing cat or dog is suffering, we are able to take them to the veterinarian and have them “put down”, and it is a merciful way to stop untold suffering. Why can the same not be extended for human beings, granted the human beings have a say in what is happening?
It is ridiculous to hear the antics of the No proponents, who were allegedly asking the same questions in Parliament in an attempt to confuse and rattle Yes and undecided politicians. This behavior is ridiculous: are you politicians or are you mere circus animals?
If a terminally ill person decides—of their own, clear-cut free will—that they wish to end their suffering, why is this considered unacceptable? Ultimately, if you disagree with the laws, you are free not to follow them. In a hypothetical future where you could be terminally ill, it is still up to you if you wish to go the palliative care route or the voluntary euthanasia route. The key word is voluntary, after all. If it violates your religious or moral beliefs, it really is as simple as just not going the euthanasia route. However, for the terminally ill who are supportive of choosing to end their life with dignity, this is excellent news.