Advocates for assisted suicide like comedian Andrew Denton are quick to play the bigot and reject all opposing views as irrelevant because the opponent happens to be religious. This article by atheist and progressive ("liberal" in the UK) Kevin Yuill gives the lie to this dismissive bigotry. Assisted suicide laws should be opposed by any thoughtful person who reflects on the evidence and arguments.
Every two years the Belgium Federal Commission on the Control and Evaluation of Euthanasia presents a report detailing statistics and developments in the practice of euthanasia in Belgium.
The report is currently only available in French and Dutch. However, with the help of Google translate the following information from 2016 and 2017 has been extracted.
Overall the impression is that euthanasia practice in Belgium continues on the path of normalising euthanasia as the go-to response to an ever increasing range of circumstances including children with disabilities, uncompleted suicides and victims of child abuse.
At 7.03 pm on Wednesday 15 August the Senate rejected the Leyonhjelm Assisted Suicide Bill by 36-34 votes, which would have paved the way for assisted suicide to be legalised in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and the Northern Territory (NT).
With Senators from all parties having a conscience vote on the Bill – a clear sign that it was essentially about assisted suicide rather than territories rights – the outcome of the vote was difficult to predict, with several Senators changing their position as the vote drew closer.
As the Senate commences debating the Leyonhjelm Assisted Suicide Bill, it should heed the wise words of Professor Margaret Somerville who point out that the international experience demonstrated that euthanasia was being used as a cheaper alternative to psychiatric and palliative care and that it would be a social tragedy if we allow assisted suicide legislation to pass.
John Anderson, who was Deputy Prime Minister of Australia from 1999-2005, and is widely respected from all sides of politics for his integrity and thoughtfulness, has urged the Senate not to endorse the proposal by Senator David Leyonhjelm to allow the territories to make laws for the state approved and facilitated suicide of those who find life "unsatisfactory".
Anderson warns that "Paving the way for the territories to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide sends the message that government-sanctioned death is a legitimate way to address" problems such as a lack of access to best practice health services in remote communities. "We open this door at the peril of all future generations as we move one step closer to a heartless and expedient society where everything is expendable, including the lives of all those whom we, others, or even the state deem “unsatisfactory”.
The Senate should heed this wise warning from John Anderson and reject Leyonhjelm's heartless Assisted Suicide Bill.
Paul Kelly, writing in the Australian in October 2016, observed that "The argument against euthanasia has endured for many years: it leads, on balance, to a less compassionate society that creates a new series of moral and practical hazards for itself. It is a disproportionate response to the real problem of patient pain that needs more care and money. It is because a society that legalises killing has to change fundamentally in terms of the ethics of its doctors, its medical ethos, its family relationships and its principles of human life."
This profound observation by Mr Kelly should be attended to carefully by Senators as they debate and vote on the Leyonhjelm Assisted Suicide Bill next week.