The Washington Supreme Court has just ruled in State v Gregory, that capital punishment is unconstitutional on the grounds that it "is administered in an arbitrary manner" and therefore violates the State constitutional ban on "cruel punishment".
"The arbitrary and race based imposition of the death penalty cannot withstand the 'evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.'"
It is instructive to apply this notion of arbitrary imposition of death to the data on assisted suicide from that same State of Washington where assisted suicide has been legal for the past nine years.
On Friday 2 October 2018 a Queensland Supreme Court jury found Graham Morant guilty on two charges: counselling his wife, Jenny Morant, to kill herself and thereby inducing her to do so; and aiding her suicide. It appears that Mr Morant professed a belief in an imminent rapture and the battle of Armageddon. He persuaded his wife to take out insurance policies worth $1.4 million with Morant as the sole beneficiary. He counselled her that she was not personally strong enough to handle the coming trials but that by killing herself she could help others in the church by providing him with the insurance money which he would use to purchase land for a safe refuge for the believers.
Putting aside the particular features of this case, it shows the importance of an absolute prohibition, with serious penalties, on counselling someone to kill themselves – putting into their minds that they would be better off dead and that to commit suicide would be a good, wise and even noble act.
The French National Consultative Committee on Ethics (CCNE) has recommended that there be no change to the absolute prohibition in French law against doctors deliberately causing the death of a person either through euthanasia or assisted suicide.
During last year’s debate on the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill both the Minister for Health, Jill Hennessy and the Special Minister for State, Gavin Jennings were at great pains to deny that the Bill would allow State approved suicide and euthanasia.
Instead it would allow “assisted dying”.
With the gazettal on Tuesday (25 September 2018) of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Regulations 2018 Dr Death's mask has slipped and all is made bare.
D-Day (Death day) for Victorians is looming on 19 June 2019, when assisted suicide by experimental lethal cocktail prescribed under a government suicide permit becomes legal.
Victorians may find themselves being pushed towards assisted suicide rather than offered appropriate help to live their lives to the full.
Canadian man Roger Foley's story is a timely warning for what may lie ahead.
World Suicide Prevention Day which was observed on 10 September ought to be a time to focus on suicide prevention for all people.
Monica Burke has written an insightful article on the way the promotion of assisted suicide for some people undermines this focus. "This practice promotes the idea that some lives are more valuable than others, an idea that rips apart the social fabric of our nation. No one should receive suicide assistance over suicide prevention."