Euthanasia enshrined in law will bring frightening social implications with it
‘ As a community, we need to do more to support those who are in pain, who are lost and afraid, and who are facing the end of their earthly journey ’ George Hemmings
RELIGIOUS leaders in Echuca-Moama are united against the assisted dying legislation, set to go before Victoria’s Legislative Council this week after being passed through the Legislative Assembly.
One Echuca cleric has suggested legalising assisted dying would usher in a culture of death.
Each of the church leaders who spoke to the Riverine Herald said the preservation of life was too important to allow some terminally ill people to choose to die.
Echuca Anglican Church’s Reverend George Hemmings
said a dangerous precedent would be set if assisted dying legislation is passed.
I believe life is a precious gift to be nourished, cherished and protected.
Euthanasia is not an individual decision, but affects families and communities, reaching beyond those directly involved to touch us all.
If we are to introduce and normalise voluntary euthanasia, how long will it be before the conversation shifts to involuntary euthanasia?
Assisted dying could promote the message that life is not worth living for some people.
Having sat with those who are suffering, and wept and prayed with those who are dying, I know that death is never easy.
As a community, we need to do more to support those who are in pain, who are lost and afraid, and who are facing the end of their earthly journey.
This might involve supporting those who decline further treatment but it should never involve actively taking a life.
As a church we are committed to wrestling with these issues, supporting people in every stage of life, and above all sharing the life, light and love of Jesus with all.
Echuca Community Church pastor David McAllan
believed legalising assisted dying would “inculcate a culture of death”.
It sends a bad signal to the community.
On one hand, we oppose suicide for anyone else, whether they are suffering emotionally or not, but on the other hand, this legislation is giving the opposite message by consenting to it.
Ultimately, Christians view human life as qualitatively different from the secular view of life.
Often, the comparison is made between our treatment of animals and our treatment of people.
They say we euthanise suffering animals so why not the same for people?
The Christian believes that mankind is made in the image of God and possesses a distinctively different place in the universe from animals.
Human life is sacred and the legislation should uphold such sacredness.
The most obvious area where any euthanasia law could be misused would be in the case of depressed people wanting to end their life.
Proponents would claim, however, that there are safe guards to stop that happening.
A Dutch doctor asked a dementia patient's family to hold her down while administering a euthanasia injection.
You would think that in such a case as this, the doctor would be charged, but no, he is cleared.
No doubt, the pressure to euthanise a relative with a healthy inheritance would be tempting to a not-so-close family. Coercion from relatives would also be a factor.
Regarding safeguards, it’s practically impossible to have effective safeguards.
Once the door is opened to assisted suicide it becomes socially acceptable and even the strictest safeguards break down. In Belgium, they have extended their laws to include children.
Twelve years after legalising euthanasia for adults, Belgium's parliament extended the right to die to terminally ill children of any age.
Abortion law in Victoria is a case in point — initially allowed under very limited circumstances, eventually became socially acceptable and now available on demand.
Palliative care is always improving and could be argued that it makes euthanasia unnecessary.
Only a very small percentage of patients might not be effectively helped with palliative care, but probably a larger number of patients are at risk of an unwanted and unwarranted premature death due to euthanasia laws. Good palliative care is the best option.
UNITED IN BELIEF: Echuca Community Church pastor David McAllan, left, and Echuca Anglican Church’s Reverend George Hemmings are both strongly opposed to assisted dying and its long-term social implications if it becomes law in Victoria.