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

The Riverine Herald - - NEWS -

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.

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