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
The latest report on assisted suicide and euthanasia in Victoria, released today (1 September 2020) by the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board raises more questions than it provides answers.
With the legal operation of a process whose intention is for the person’s life to end immediately and painlessly now in operation for over a year, the need for vigorous scrutiny has never been greater. This report fails to deliver on the promise made when the legislation was passed in 2017.
Basic questions remain unanswered, such as:
- how many doctors participated in assessing people for eligibility? acted as a consulting practitioner? administered a lethal substance to end a person's life? wrote a prescription for a lethal substance to be taken by the person?
- when were complications in the dying process encountered? how long did it take for people to lose consciousness? how long to die?did some people die alone?
- what proportion of applicants underwent palliative care assessment and treatment prior to being given a permit to end their life or have their life ended by lethal medication?
Quotes from ACA spokespersons:
Dr Stephen Parnis, Emergency Physician said:
"In the middle of the Covid-19 Pandemic, we have seen that the regulations governing aged care have proven to be hopelessly inadequate. How can we have any confidence that the so-called safeguards for the dying are any better?"
Assoc Prof Mark Yates, Geriatrician said:
“In the delivery of safe, ethical care for the frail and aged, those of us charged with responsibility for that care – particularly in hospitals – feel unsupported in the current environment.”
Dr John Daffy, Specialist Physician said:
“In 2017, Victorians were promised dramatic improvement to palliative care services across the state. In the three years since that promise, little has changed. Access to palliative has not improved, and VAD should not be the only option”.
Four years after euthanasia was legalised throughout Canada on 17 June 2016 the "first annual report" covering euthanasia deaths in 2019 was released in July 2020.
As the dead bodies pile higher - 13,946 of them in three and a half years according to the report - there are at least nine lessons to be learned for other jurisdictions considering legalising euthanasia or assisted suicide.
The latest data from California confirms that assisted suicide is overwhelmingly a white issue.
In 2019 assisted suicide accounted for 0.22% of all deaths on non-Hispanic whites in California - three times the rate for Hispanics (0.07%) and Asians (0.08%) and a massive eleven times that for blacks (0.02%).
Similarly in 2018 in Oregon deaths of white non-Hispanics by assisted suicide (0.49%) were at more than three times the rate for all other Oregonians (0.16%) and in Washington State white non-Hispanics deaths by assisted suicide (0.49%) were at more than three and a half times (3.66 times) the rate for all other Washingtonians (0.12%).
Dr James Downar, the first doctor to register to provide euthanasia in Ontario, has described the typical case of euthanasia as involving a "captain of industry, self-willed, no longer feeling in control so wants to control the time and manner of his death".
In a unanimous decision by three judges of the Queensland Court of Appeal handed down in Brisbane on 19 June 2020 in the case of R v Morant  QCA 135, Graham Morant’s appeal against his conviction for aiding the suicide of his wife was rejected on all four grounds of appeal and the sentence of 10 years imprisonment was upheld as fair.
This case should be a big red flag to those intent on legalising assisted suicide and euthanasia as the current Queensland Government intends to do if re-elected on 31 October 2020.