|South Australian Parliament|
The following article was originally posted by Paul Russell, the founder and leader of HOPE Australia, a group that opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide. Russell is also the Vice Chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition International.
Paul Russell, April 10, 2013. Link to the original article.
This is effectively a summary of objections made by various organisations (including HOPE) to the parliament in recent days in respect to this bill. It provides a reflection upon the framework of the bill, in particular; and the problems with euthanasia legislation in general.
Congratulations to these courageous MPs for re-establishing the debate on it's proper footing!
Subject: Ending Life with Dignity Bill 2013
Ending Life with Dignity Bill 2013
Please find below a short summary of serious concerns that have arisen from the above bill. We have also attached a further more detailed letter which responds to the points made by Dr Such in his letter to members dated 21 February 2013.
We firmly believe that the bill should be opposed because;
“The AMA(SA) strongly opposes both Bills, considering them to be fundamentally and irretrievably flawed.”
2. The Law Society of SA has stated in a 12 page letter dated 1 March 2013 that more than 30 major changes to the bill are needed, in addition to some minor changes. The required changes generally concern the procedures and so-called protections in the bill. A copy of the letter is attached and should be read by anyone considering supporting this Bill.
3. Only one doctor must certify that the patient has a terminal illness. That doctor could, and most likely would be, a strong advocate for euthanasia.
4. There is no requirement whatsoever that any doctor involved has any past involvement with the patient, or even any knowledge of the past history of the patient.
5. Patients suffering from depression, even major depression, still qualify for euthanasia. The expert opinion of a psychiatrist is not required.
6. There is no requirement whatsoever to notify a terminally ill patient’s relatives of intended euthanasia.
7. Persons as young as 18 years old (including those suffering from depression) can be put to death just 48 hours after the issue of the certificate of confirmation.
8. The law already allows patients to refuse ongoing treatment or life support, such that death results.
9. If euthanasia is legalised, the elderly will be vulnerable to feelings that they are a burden. The simple availability of euthanasia will itself place pressure on the elderly and vulnerable. Elderly people can be easily influenced, and may feel unwanted, even when this is not the case.
10. A poll referred to in ‘the Australian’ in October 2010 indicated that of those aged 65 to 74, only 18% approved of euthanasia. Euthanasia is an issue most relevant to this group.
11. The doctor who finally kills the patient need only be a general practitioner. The very real possibility of an error in diagnosis is always present, especially without a requirement for a second medical opinion.
12. Only a very small minority of countries in the world have legalised euthanasia.
13. The bill requires that the cause of death be falsely stated in official documents as the underlying disease, even though this was not the cause of death. This will distort official statistics.
14. The bill requires insurance companies to pay on a death claim, even though death is by choice through euthanasia. The insurer would not be told of the true cause of death. This illustrates the fact that there can be financial advantages for the patient and family to consider in deciding upon euthanasia.
We hope you will take these important matters into consideration as the debate on the bill continues.
Leesa Vlahos MP,
Hon. Dennis Hood MLC,
Martin Hamilton-Smith MP,
Hon. Tom Kenyon MP.