150 WA Doctors Oppose WA Euthanasia Bill
In a petition to the members of the Parliament of Western Australia one hundred and fifty medical practitioners, including senior oncologists, geriatricians, psychiatrists and palliative medicine specialists, call on the Parliament to reject the legalisation of assisted suicide and euthanasia.
We the undersigned medical practitioners of Western Australia urge you to vote against the passage of any bill that would legalise assisted suicide and euthanasia, which are sometimes referred to as “voluntary assisted dying”.
We do not believe that such legislation is needed in Western Australia and that it would be a regressive not a progressive change, putting the lives and wellbeing of many Western Australians unnecessarily at risk.
Assisting our patients to commit suicide or intentionally killing them by euthanasia is never acceptable. It is not and can never be regarded as medical treatment or medical care.
The doctors stress the discriminatory nature of a scheme that would provide suicide prevention for some Wesrern Australians while facilitating suicide for others considered "better off dead".
With rising suicide rates in Western Australia, we believe that changing the law to permit physicians to assist suicide will wrongly divide Western Australians into two classes - those whose suicides we seek to prevent and those whose suicides we approve and facilitate. As the profession in society tasked with preserving life and using our skills to optimise care to those afflicted by illness, we believe that assisting an individual to take his or her own life for any reason is never warranted and is never an appropriate solution to their illness.
The petition highlights the impossibility of avoiding wrongful deaths under any scheme that legalises assisted suicide and euthanasia.
We respect an individual’s right in the community, but autonomy is not an absolute right. It must be balanced against the risks to the community as a whole, especially the vulnerable.
We are greatly concerned that the legalisation of assisted suicide and euthanasia would place unspoken pressures on vulnerable populations in our community such as the elderly, the disabled and the depressed. These Western Australians have a right to an expectation of care - not an option of care. We are very concerned about legislation over time changing societal values and attitudes towards disadvantaged groups in our community. No number of alleged safeguards can ever guarantee that there are no wrongful deaths from assisted suicide and euthanasia, including the deaths of those who are either overtly or subtly pressured into feeling a burden on others such that they would be better off dead.
Those at risk of wrongful death need and deserve our society’s care and protection, so that their individual rights are not abused.
Given the historic and current abuses that have led to royal commissions into the care of the elderly and into the abuse of those with a disability, how can we consider introducing a new, lethal way of potentially abusing these and other vulnerable groups in our society.
Read the full petition here.