On rights and obligations
Voluntary assisted dying is strongly opposed by Right To Life Australia through its tried and tested tactics of political intimidation and by framing compassion as “killing” (John Power, “Unwritten endings”,
August 5-11). Its website cites the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and states, “The Right to Life is the most fundamental right of all human rights. Without it, all other rights are meaningless.” The argument that voluntary assisted dying contravenes this internationally recognised inalienable right to life is devoid of substance. If I have a right to life that I can neither be deprived of, nor transfer to anyone else, it follows that my life can be no one’s property but my own. I am therefore entitled to make decisions about it, even to end it, and ask for compassionate assistance to that end provided that I do not harm others. The sanctity of human life, which Right To Life endorses, regards human life as a gift from God, who alone may decide when it shall end. It follows that it may not be given up, or taken by another. Personal autonomy in this respect is overridden by “God’s purpose” for believers and nonbelievers alike: albeit not if life is prolonged medically. Right To Life societies do not uphold life as a right to be exercised, but as an obligation to be complied with and endured, no matter how bitter or meaningless it may become. The title “Right To Life” societies presents an unfortunate and cruel paradox. They may be more fittingly named Obligation To Life societies, and organisations such as Dying With Dignity and voluntary euthanasia advocacy societies be named Right To Life societies.
– Dr Julia Anaf, Norwood, SA