Liza Harvey, Leader of the Opposition, spoke movingly in the WA Legislative Assembly on Thursday 29 August 2019, about the three precious years she and her children shared with her husband Hal after he was helped to overcome his initial depression and to reverse his decision to undergo assisted suicide in Switzerland.
Speaking in opposition to the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2019 in the Legislative Assembly of the Parliament of Western Australia on Wednesday 28 August 2019, Dr David Honey, the Liberal Member for Cottesloe, made several telling points.
Firstly, he noted that much of the drive for assisted suicide and euthanasia is based on observer accounts of a loved one’s death as “distressing”:
It is my observation that in many cases when people are dying of natural causes at an older age, it seems to be more distressing for the people observing the process than the person who is dying. I have met many older people who are reconciled with their imminent death and are satisfied that they have lived meaningful lives. I believe that the observer’s distress drives a lot of the emotion around legislating an alternative outcome, avoiding untidy or disconcerting outcomes with a certain outcome, being able to stage a good death. It is easy to confuse our own distress at seeing a loved one incapacitated and in pain for distress on their part. The dying person may sometimes be in less distress than those who cannot bear to watch them die.
Despite the list of 102 alleged safeguards - trumping Victoria's measly 68 safeguards! - tabled by Health Minister Roger Cook after he delivered his second reading speech - replete with logical contradictions - on Western Australia's Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2019, the Bill is fatally flawed and will not prevent wrongful deaths from euthanasia and assisted suicide if passed into law.
Minister Cook, like Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass, insists the words "euthanasia" and "suicide" mean what he want them to mean - "neither more nor less".
David Seymour, the sponsor of the End of Life Choice Bill has conceded to the New Zealand Parliament that mistakes will be made in prognosis:
we all know, and I'm very pleased to know, people who had terminal prognoses a decade ago who are now walking around living very full lives and are very, very happy to still be alive. It is true that if we know somebody like that, it's very likely that we think of them.
However, Seymour effectively argued that it doesn’t matter (or matter enough) that some people who could have lived for decades will die unnecessarily – it is worth it to give others:
who want to choose to go on their terms, with their timing, the choice to have it their way.
On 24 July 2019 within hours of Oregon Governor Kate Brown signing Senate Bill 579 into law - the first amendment to a law authorising assisted suicide in the USA - the pro-assisted suicide corporation Compassion & Choices openly declared its plan to start rolling back restrictions and procedural safeguards in assisted suicide laws so that more people will die by assisted suicide.
The amendment allows the previously mandatory waiting period of 15 days to be dispensed with if a single doctor, who may never have met the person before but is approached as a known provider of assisted suicide, states that the person “will, within reasonable medical judgment, die within 15 days”.
This gives no time to explore other responses to a request for assisted suicide before a person is dead by prescribed lethal poison.
Guidelines issued for assessing and executing requests for euthanasia and assisted suicide from people with mental disorders, including addictions such as alcoholism, by the Netherlands Federation of Medical Specialists and the National Council of the Order of Physicians of Belgium essentially authorise doctors to agree with a patient that abandoning all hope - as if they were at the gates of hell in Dante's Divine Comedy - is the only proper response to their mental illness or addiction.
This plaque could appropriately be put on the office door of Dutch and Belgian doctors who give effect to the guidelines.