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
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.