Monday, July 24, 2017

The article on assisted suicide that Australian newspapers wouldn't publish

This article was published by HOPE Australia on July 22, 2017.

How Can The Public Make A Good Decision About Assisted Suicide When Reasoned Argument Is Verboten! 
Rachel Carling-Jenkins

Read Dr Carling-Jenkins Article And Judge For Yourself!

Guest Article by Dr Rachel Carling-Jenkins
Victorian State Parliamentary Leader, Australian Conservatives

Compassion for people at the end of life is a fundamental reflection of our humanity. We care. It’s what people do.

Australians are a compassionate people. We are known for it. Whether motivated to help our friends and family or to respond to natural disasters or even the plight of suffering people that play out with regularity in the euthanasia debates – we care. Our motivation drives us to action (intention): we act as we can, we offer support, and we donate to causes.

But our compassion should never drive us to support killing by euthanasia or to help someone to their suicide. That intention is always wrong. Our legal system and the vast majority of legal systems throughout the world have held to this principle since ever laws were written. We don’t see killing or supporting suicide as a valid option in response to difficult circumstances.

The Victorian Parliament has been talking about this issue for more than a year. The motivation – to care and to respond to suffering – is honourable; and the majority of the recommendations of the Parliamentary Report on end-of-life choices reflect that. Yet the question of whether there should be a law in Victoria that allows people to commit suicide with medical support or to die by euthanasia was never really dealt with by the committee in any detail. Certainly, the report itemised the case for and against, but it never discussed the pros and cons nor did it grapple with the inherent risks nor the moral and ethical concerns. (Think: if we need to talk about ‘safeguards’, then there’s something inherently ‘unsafe’ about the practice)

If this were an environmental impact statement for a large urban development no government would proceed based on such a flimsy and inconclusive presentation. Yet when talking about a literal ‘life and death’ issue, Premier Andrews and his Health Minister seem driven more by ideology than common sense. This is reckless, dangerous and ill-conceived.

My colleague, Daniel Mulino MLC tabled a dissenting report last year that looked at all of the literature and all of the practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide in the few jurisdictions where it is legal. His work raised significant doubts about the ability of any law to protect vulnerable people or to contain the target cohort. Even a cursory glance at Mulino’s work would cast serious doubt about the glib assertions of the likes of Andrew Denton.

Victorians are being sold a dud. The use of euphemisms such as ‘assisted dying’ to describe medical aid to suicide feeds on our sense of compassion but it leads us down a blind alley. It encourages us to accept that, because it sounds compassionate, it somehow follows that the intention is benign. We’re told that there are people driven to suicide by their medical conditions, but all the government is offering as an alternative is, well, suicide. How is that compassionate? Surely we can do better than that!

And above all of this we have behaviour by the likes of Denton and his cohort that reminds me more of the wild-west snake oil salesman than it does of anything else. Theirs is a simple proposition: create fear in people’s minds that some of us will die in significant pain and then offer them a deceptively simple solution – assisted suicide. The Report of the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry took this bait all too easily, going so far as to wrongly cite a submission by Palliative Care Victoria (PCV) to make the false claim that “not all pain can be alleviated”. This is not the case, as the PCV submission made abundantly clear.

Using fear as a political tool may be effective, but it is bad public policy to undermine confidence in our palliative services.

Associate Professor Ian Haines, medical oncologist and palliative medicine specialist, told another newspaper last year that, as an oncologist with 35 years' full-time experience, “I have seen palliative care reach the point where the terminally ill can die with equal or more dignity than euthanasia will provide.”

If there are shortcomings in palliative medicine it is surely that not every Victorian, not every Australian, currently has access to quality services in their time of need. To remedy that situation the NSW government recently committed to $100M in funding for rural and remote services and Palliative Care Victoria has identified an immediate need of an additional $65M to the same end. It would be a cruel hoax played on the people of Victoria that some may feel forced to ‘choose’ assisted suicide because of a lack of effective services.

And yet, for all of the talk about pain and all of the hard cases that the pro-assisted suicide lobby delight to recall, the main reason people choose assisted suicide isn’t pain at all. It’s about fear of loss of autonomy and fear of being a burden. What kind of endorsement would we be giving to our elderly and ill if we passed into law the thought that, yes, indeed, you are a burden? As Dutch academic Henk Reitsema says: Before it becomes a legal option, caring for someone who needs care is just the human thing that you do. But once they have the option to 'choose' to let their lives be ended, their not doing so is to choose to burden their next of kin - and that's unfair!'


gadfly said...

Let's not forget fantasy. I have noticed in the course of my research and reading, that the presentations of arguments for assisted death consist of fictional and fictive readings demanding a real world answer. We are expected to agree that, yes, granny suffering and in pain in a hospital would be better off dead and that's the end of that chapter. Yet we are not allowed to ask what her diagnosis is, the competence of her medical 'care team', her prognosis, and what might also be going on in her life. These critical questions - which must be asked if we are to allow for informed consent - are verboten by the killing powers that be. So we can say that we are emotionally manipulated into accepting a fantasy as real, and then basing our real world responses on that fantasy. This is the essence of social psychosis.

Monique David said...

This is very true!

Unknown said...

Thank you for this article. The reasons for euthanasia requests in Canada are proving to be the same as the literature states - fear and anxiety about loss of control and fear and anxiety about losing enjoyable activities.... and then comes being a burden. Prognosis no longer plays much part in Canada's law system or medical assessments for eligibility. It can range from a few days to up to 10 years of life left.

The medical assessment is involuntarily manipulative and coercive under the umbrella of "public safety". The medical profession does not want these lethal drugs out on the street so an appointment with a physician is made... How many people cancel a physician appointment! Not the weak or coerced, may be a few strong willed people.

I thought it would take Canada about 2-3 years before they undertook a cost/benefit analysis for euthanasia. It only took one province 4-5 months before that was done.... Indirect coercion for financial reasons is already present.

We are seeing people who are fearful of entering palliative care services because they no longer trust us.

Historically, Canadians could say that the state would protect it's citizens from external enemies and those within it's citizenry who killed other Canadians, but we can no longer say that. Our nation now condones the taking of innocent/vulnerable lives. As one loved one stated after euthanasia was performed on their loved one, "It is so much better that (loved ones) death is approved by society. It would be such a disgrace to have to commit suicide."
Our citizens have limited legal avenues to raise questions as judges claim that "reasonably close to death" can be years because "there is no longer quality of life". They are no longer objective, but subjective in their judgments... They show how little they understand the twists and turns of motives and suffering. I cry for our Canadians. Do not let it happen elsewhere in the name of compassion which is really pity or in the name of eliminating intolerable suffering as opposed to alleviating meaningless suffer by compassionately walking along side.