UN experts warn legalising euthanasia pressures people with disabilities and older persons to "end their lives prematurely"
UN experts have warned that "even when access to" legalised euthanasia and assistance to suicide "is restricted to those at the end of life or with a terminal illness, people with disabilities, older persons, and especially older persons with disabilities, may feel subtly pressured to end their lives prematurely due to attitudinal barriers as well as the lack of appropriate services and support."
Reported deaths by euthanasia in Ontario jumped by one third (32.95%) from 1789 in 2019 to 2378 in 2020 according to statistics published by the Office of the Chief Coroner.
Associate Professor Odette Spruijt, a palliative medicine practitioner of almost 30 years experience, has urged Tasmanians to "follow a path that holds least risk for social harm" and avoid "the cultural normalization of the practice of the intentional termination of life by assisting a person to suicide or giving a lethal drug".
In my consultative practice at a major hospital in the Western suburbs of Melbourne, I reviewed a man with a history of chronic depression and now recurrent bowel cancer, who on hearing of the return of his cancer, attempted suicide. He survived this attempt and was reviewed by a psychiatry registrar and consultant while still an inpatient. Their clinical note suggested that perhaps VAD [assistance to suicide] should be offered to him.
This is a significant departure from the established practice of care for patients with depressive illness who are suicidal.
In its submission to the Queensland Law Reform Commission into "A legal framework for voluntary assisted dying" the Australian care Alliance has pointed to the evidence from the fatally flawed schemes in eighteen jurisdictions that have or have had legalised euthanasia and/or assisted suicide.
The submission presents detailed evidence about the twelve categories of wrongful death that cannot be prevented if euthanasia and assisted suicide are legalised.
In a speech to British Parliamentarians for World Suicide Prevention Day, Professor Theo Boer, a former supporter of legalised euthanasia in the Netherlands, warns that legalising euthanasia and physician assisted suicide may lead to an increase in the overall suicide rate.
Dr Marion Harris warns that the euthanasia and assisted suicide bill currently before the Tasmanian Parliament is even more radical and dangerous than the law which has been in operation in Victoria since June 2019 that was responsible for 124 deaths by lethal poison in the first 12 months. Her opinion piece was first published in The Advocate on 1 September 2020
Associate Professor Marion Harris is a Medical oncologist in Melbourne