Tasmanian MPs must heed warnings of Victorian euthanasia toll

The introduction of a euthanasia bill by MP Mike Gaffney MLC in Tasmania rings alarm bells.   Will Tasmania heed the danger as shown by Victoria's euthanasia toll - already surpassing government predictions?

Alarmingly - the death of 52 Victorians in 6 months under the Andrews' government's assisted suicide act far exceeds the prediction of the likely deaths in that passage of time according to the Victorian government.

Medical group Australian Care Alliance highlights these figures in their analysis "Victorian deaths from assisted suicide hit rate that took Oregon 14 years."  They document the sharp increase in the number of Victorians who have had their lives ended after the first six months of operation of the so-called ‘voluntary assisted dying' legislation.

So much for the famous “safeguards”. This is an example of what can and will occur once the genie is out of the bottle as has been the case in those countries like Holland and Belgium that have been practising euthanasia for some years now.

A Dutch physician friend of mine - the late Dr Karel Gunning of Rotterdam - once told me this alarming story:

An oncologist friend of his was treating a woman dying of lung cancer. He recommended that she would be much more comfortable in hospital. She refused to go because she was scared she would be given euthanasia. Her doctor assured her he would never do that so she reluctantly agreed to be hospitalised.

As a result she was more comfortable.

One weekend her doctor was off duty. When he returned he found his patient was not in her bed. “Oh” said the junior doctor – “I gave her euthanasia. She only had a few more weeks to live and we needed the bed!”

It is interesting to note in September 2015 the British House of Commons voted overwhelmingly 3:1 (330:118) against euthanasia. (Assisted Dying [No. 2] Bill [11/9/2015])

The main argument against the legislation that carried the day was that it was too dangerous. In this the MPs were influenced by Professor Theo Boer of The Netherlands who addressed them. “Don’t do it” he said.

“I was originally in favour of it and now I see it is far too dangerous.”

A leading outspoken critic of the bill at the time was Baroness Butler-Sloss - former Chief Justice of the Family Division of the British High Court. She said:

“The safeguards provide no real protection to the vulnerable and will fall apart should this become law…This bill will place many elderly, ill and vulnerable people in significantly more danger.”

See newspaper cutting from UK group

She also expressed concerns over the ability of doctors to judge whether abuse or coercion had taken place.

An article – published in The Australian newspaper 22/8/20 “John Olsen’s stepdaughter loses appeal over $2.2 million ‘gift’ from dying Mum” (The Australian subscribers only) is an illustration of the lesson from Baroness Butler-Sloss.

For judgment in this case view: Supreme Court of New South Wales - Court of Appeal Mentink v Olsen [2020] NSWCA 182 (21 August 2020)

Finally, on the matter of religion being used to oppose the bill. Legislators of no belief or a variety of beliefs prepare and vote for legislation governing the protection of human life - day in and day out – legislation relating to homicide, manslaughter, dangerous driving, assault and rape, proper care of children etc.

Why then is the matter of religious beliefs not called into question during debates on these matters? Because we are supposed to be a civilised society that should protect the weak and vulnerable.
Those who draw on these arguments merely wish to introduce sectarianism into the debate in a cheap attempt to win more support from those of no religious beliefs.

For more information Margaret Tighe 0417 338 961


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