Thursday, November 30, 2023

Australian Federal Court rules that assisted suicide is suicide under Criminal Code

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Natassia Chrysanthos reported for the Sydney Morning Herald on November 30, 2023 that Federal Court Justice Wendy Abraham ruled that:
voluntary assisted dying was considered suicide under the code, which means doctors could be charged under laws that prohibit using a carriage service – such as telehealth, email or phone calls – to incite or provide information about suicide.
The landmark decision means that doctors who approve assisted suicide via telehealth or by any other carriage service, can be charged under the federal law for inciting or providing information about suicide.

Chrysanthos reported that Nick Carr, a Melbourne doctor who brought the case to the federal court argued that:
the term suicide should not apply to voluntary assisted dying because the latter involved a legal right to intentionally take one’s life that was regulated by law.
The court disagreed and ruled that:
suicide, as used in the criminal code, applied to ending a person’s life under state voluntary assisted dying laws – meaning that doctors who consulted patients about euthanasia over the phone, email or telehealth were breaking the law, even if those actions had been authorised under state legislation.
Chrysanthos reported that a Victoria government spokesperson and the Queensland Attorney-General stated their intention of changing the law. Federal Independent MP, Kate Cheney announced that she will be introducing a Private Members bill to amend Australia's Suicide Act.

Australia's Suicide Act was amended to prevent suicide information sharing via a carriage service in order to stop Philip Nitschke from providing information and suicide advice.

Australia's federal court made the correct decision. Whether someone is counselling assisted suicide or suicide for other reasons, the act is the same.

Euthanasia cannot be "culturally safe"

Medical killing obviously undermines cultural preservation.
By Amanda Achtman
Amanda Achtman
Health Canada is currently conducting a survey of Indigenous perspectives on Canada’s euthanasia program.

These are some examples of the highly leading questions the Government is using in its attempt to solicit support for euthanasia from Indigenous respondents:
  • What supports should be in place to allow Indigenous people to make decisions about MAID?
  • What supports should be in place to help someone preparing for their MAID journey? What supports should be in place to help their families and caregivers?
  • If you have supported or are supporting a loved one who has chosen MAID, what was your experience with the process?
The purported intent of collecting such data is to ensure “cultural safety” which the Government defines as: 
“A way of being that is created by a trusting and respectful environment. Culturally safe practices are actions in colonized spaces where Indigenous Peoples, families and communities feel respected, included, welcomed and comfortable expressing all aspects of who they are as Indigenous Peoples.”
I am reminded of Cardinal Robert Sarah’s critique of an ideological colonialism that persists today which he described as “the imposition of a false morality and deceitful values.”

Premature death through medical killing is precisely this kind of imposition.

According to a Statistics Canada report, 
“Suicide rates among First Nations people, Métis and Inuit were significantly higher than the rate among non-Indigenous people. The rate among First Nations people (24.3 deaths per 100,000 person-years at risk) was three times higher than the rate among non-Indigenous people (8.0 deaths per 100,000 person-years at risk). Among First Nations people living on reserve, the rate was about twice as high as that among those living off reserve.”
Killing, whether through suicide or euthanasia, obviously undermines cultural preservation insofar as it destroys persons, the bearers of culture.

Despite having high rates of suicide, this is not a sign that it is an Indigenous value. On the contrary, suicide is a sign of distress, trauma, and inadequate support to live.

If Canada euthanizes Indigenous persons, this will go down in national shame like the forced sterilizations and other dehumanizing eugenic practices perpetuated due to “deceitful values.”

I hope more Indigenous persons will speak out against the Government’s euthanasia regime and the explicit targeting of First Nations support for it.

In case you missed it, I invite you to check out the short film I produced about Eulalia Running Rabbit, a Blackfoot elder, on why she opposes euthanasia.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Euthanasia: too easy for people to view death as a solution

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, a member of the UK House of Lords and a Professor in palliative care, warned Scotland's government that: 'online content is promoting a “culture of death”'. Llandaff warned Scotland's government that legalizing assisted death could “gradually get eroded”, leading to “almost death in demand”.

Sophie Villegas reported for Holyrood on November 29 Baroness Finlay commenting on Canada's experience with euthanasia:
“It becomes too easy for people to view death as a solution. It's been estimated that it's about 60 hours of clinical time to really process a request properly. Well, I would prefer that you spend 60 hours of clinical time improving people's quality of life… We need to be saying that people's lives are important. We need to help them live as well as possible for as long as possible,” she added.

“It would be wonderful if every doctor, every nurse, was well-motivated. But goodness me, we have seen disasters in this country of people abusing their position, to say the least, and almost clocking into a culture of death, which is dangerous."
Scotland is once again debating the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide. The text of legislation has not yet been released. Scotland's parliament last voted on the issue in 2022.

Hungary's government opposes assisted suicide

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Dániel Karsai, an Hungarian who lives with a progressive neurodegenerative condition, brought a case to European Court of Human Rights this week to challenge Hungary's laws prohibiting euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Daily News Hungary reported on November 29, 2023 that the Hungarian government intervened in the case by opposing any changes to their laws. According to Daily News Hungary the Hungarian Justice Ministry told the European Court of Human Rights that:

The ministry said Hungary considered "unacceptable" all decisions and aspirations which "enable others to end a person's life".

The ministry cited Article 2 of Hungary's constitution and Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) which guarantee the right to life. At the same time, neither Hungary's constitution nor international law, including the ECHR guarantee the right to die, it argued.

The Karsai case has been promoted by the euthanasia lobby and at least one assisted suicide group in Switzerland.

Previous article: Assisted suicide ban challenged at Europe's top human rights court (Link).

guarantee the right to life. At the same time, neither Hungary’s constitution nor international law, including the ECHR, guarantee the right to die, it argued. The statement said the “fulfilment of dignity and its preservation” were not a political issue or a matter of worldview, but a fundamental right which could not override the sanctity of life. “The protection of life is primary in Christian culture, including in Hungary,” it added. The ministry said assisted suicide left room for “numerous forms of abuse”, stressing Hungary’s position that “no one can take another’s life for any reason”.
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guarantee the right to life. At the same time, neither Hungary’s constitution nor international law, including the ECHR, guarantee the right to die, it argued. The statement said the “fulfilment of dignity and its preservation” were not a political issue or a matter of worldview, but a fundamental right which could not override the sanctity of life. “The protection of life is primary in Christian culture, including in Hungary,” it added. The ministry said assisted suicide left room for “numerous forms of abuse”, stressing Hungary’s position that “no one can take another’s life for any reason”.
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The ECtHR heard experts in the Karsai v. Hungary case on Monday and Tuesday, with the justice ministry representing Hungary. The ministry said Hungary considered “unacceptable” all decisions and aspirations which “enable others to end a person’s life”. The ministry cited Article 2 of Hungary’s constitution and Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which guarantee the right to life. At the same time, neither Hungary’s constitution nor international law, including the ECHR, guarantee the right to die, it argued. The statement said the “fulfilment of dignity and its preservation” were not a political issue or a matter of worldview, but a fundamental right which could not override the sanctity of life. “The protection of life is primary in Christian culture, including in Hungary,” it added. The ministry said assisted suicide left room for “numerous forms of abuse”, stressing Hungary’s position that “no one can take another’s life for any reason”.
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The ECtHR heard experts in the Karsai v. Hungary case on Monday and Tuesday, with the justice ministry representing Hungary. The ministry said Hungary considered “unacceptable” all decisions and aspirations which “enable others to end a person’s life”. The ministry cited Article 2 of Hungary’s constitution and Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which guarantee the right to life. At the same time, neither Hungary’s constitution nor international law, including the ECHR, guarantee the right to die, it argued. The statement said the “fulfilment of dignity and its preservation” were not a political issue or a matter of worldview, but a fundamental right which could not override the sanctity of life. “The protection of life is primary in Christian culture, including in Hungary,” it added. The ministry said assisted suicide left room for “numerous forms of abuse”, stressing Hungary’s position that “no one can take another’s life for any reason”.
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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Assisted suicide ban challenged at Europe's top human rights court

The following press release is from ADF International on November 28, 2023.
  • Dániel Karsai, Hungarian national suffering from progressive neurodegenerative condition, seeks legalization of assisted suicide in Hungary before European Court of Human Rights in oral hearing today.
  •  ADF International intervenes, arguing that Hungary is obligated to protect the right to life; there is no “right to die”.

Strasbourg (28 November 2023) – Hungarian national Dániel Karsai, diagnosed with a progressive neurodegenerative condition, brought his challenge to Hungary’s ban on assisted suicide before the European Court of Human Rights today. Assisted suicide is illegal under Hungarian law, as in the overwhelming majority of countries.

ADF International intervened in the case of Karsai v. Hungary, arguing that Hungary’s legal prohibition on assisted suicide must be upheld in line with the obligation under the European Convention on Human Rights (Article 2) to protect the right to life.

In its submission to the Court, the legal advocacy organization highlights the inevitable abuses that ensue when legal protections for the right to life are eradicated. The brief explains: “Removing such provisions from law creates a dangerous scenario where pressure is placed on vulnerable people to end their lives in fear (whether or not justified) of being a burden upon relatives, carers, or a state that is short of resources.”

“We cannot abandon our essential human rights protections.”

“While Mr. Karsai’s condition demands our greatest compassion, we cannot abandon our essential human rights protections. Hungary is bound under European and international human rights law to safeguard human life,” stated Jean-Paul Van De Walle, Legal Counsel for ADF International, present at the Court’s oral hearing in Strasbourg on 28 November.

“The right to life is inviolable, underlying all other human rights. Conversely, there is no so-called ‘right to die’. Worldwide, only a tiny minority of countries allow assisted suicide. Wherever the practice is allowed, legal ‘safeguards’ are insufficient to prevent abuses, proving most harmful to vulnerable members of society, including the elderly, the disabled, and those suffering from mental illness or depression. And assisted suicide inevitably results in human rights-violating coercion on medical professionals and others to end human life. Suicide is something society rightly considers a tragedy to be prevented, and the same stance must apply with regard to assisted suicide. Killing someone can never be the solution,” continued Van De Walle.

The Court, which granted this case priority, is expected to deliver its decision on an expedited timeline.

Seeking a “right” to die

Karsai, 46, who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), wishes to resort to assisted suicide before his physical condition further deteriorates. It is a criminal offence in Hungary to help somebody end their life, whether the act is committed in Hungary or abroad. Mr. Karsai maintains that even if he were to die by assisted suicide outside of Hungary, the Hungarian Criminal Code would apply to anyone assisting him.

Safeguarding the right to life

ADF International, along with UK-based NGO Care Not Killing, has highlighted to the Court that there is no so-called “right to die” but, in fact, a clear right to life. This position, in line with both European and international human rights law, underscores the dangers that would ensue from forcing Hungary to allow assisted suicide, highlighting that the intentional taking of human life can never be safe.

The European Court of Human Rights also recognised these dangers in the October 2022 ruling in Mortier v. Belgium, in which the applicant was represented by ADF International. In this case, the Court found that Belgium violated the right to life in the circumstances surrounding the euthanasia of Godelieva De Troyer. The Court condemned Belgium because of “the lack of independence of the Control Commission,” which for over twenty years has presided over the practice of euthanasia in Belgium and supposedly acts as the ‘guardian’ of the legal safeguards.

As stated in the Karsai submission: “Despite alleged ‘safeguards’ and a ‘strict’ legal framework, young adults are euthanised because of ‘incurable depression,’ elderly people because of symptoms related to ageing, prisoners because of lack of access to appropriate mental health care or because of psychological suffering, twins because of becoming blind – to mention only some examples, among many others”.

Legalisation leads to abuses

Of the 46 Member States of the Council of Europe, only six have legalized assisted suicide. The practice has been rejected by legislators in the vast majority of countries.

The World Medical Association consistently and categorically has rejected the practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide as unethical. Countries that have legalized euthanasia now allow the intentional killing of children, those who are physically healthy, and those who have not given their consent.

In Resolution 1859 (2012), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe stated unequivocally that: “Euthanasia, in the sense of the intentional killing by act or omission of a dependent human being for his or her alleged benefit, must always be prohibited.”

“Once we as a society open the doors to intentional killing, there is no logical stopping point. How do we distinguish between the person we talk down from the bridge and the person we let die at the hands of their doctor? The state has an obligation to protect the fundamental value of human life, and we cannot set in motion legal changes that undermine this obligation to the detriment of all of society,” noted Van De Walle.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Portugal's government will defer regulations for euthanasia

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Portugal's Parliament
Natasha Donn reported for the Portugal Resident on November 24, that Portugal's government will defer implementing regulations for euthanasia until after the next election, scheduled for March 10, 2024.

According to the report by Donn:
health minister Manuel Pizarro has announced. Effectively dodging another ‘thorny’ issue (having already ditched talks with striking doctors, again because of the elections), the minister told Lusa that “the process of regulating the law is under development and will be an integral part of the transition dossier”.
The Portugal News reported on May 12 that Portugal's parliament overturned President de Sousa's veto of the euthanasia bill:
Parliament has today confirmed the decree on medically assisted death, which had been vetoed by the President of the Republic, with a total of 129 votes in favour, forcing its promulgation.
On March 31, The Portugal Resident reported that Portugal's Parliament passed a fourth euthanasia bill with two of the previous bills being declared unconstitutional by Portugal's Constitutional Court and a third bill being vetoed by President de Sousa. The current bill permitted assisted suicide, but persons with disabilities who would have difficulty self-administering assisted suicide could die by euthanasia.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Lancet report: Healthcare sector supported the Nazi euthanasia program

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

I have always been told that any reference to the Nazi euthanasia program is a sign of extremism. This article is not comparing the modern euthanasia program to the euthanasia program in Nazi Germany, but rather it is an investigation into the Nazi euthanasia program. The Lancet Commission on medicine, Nazism and the Holocaust released their report on November 8, 2023.

Nazi doctors, Nuremburg
A commentary on the findings of the Lancet Commission in relation to the Nazi euthanasia program was published on November 15, 2023 by stating that:
Medical atrocities during the Nazi era were not solely carried out by "a few extremist doctors" or perpetrators that acted "under coercion", according to a report published by the Lancet Journal.
The Healthworld commentary continued:
Vienna: Medical professionals played a "central role" in the crimes committed by the Nazis, according to a new study published Thursday (November 8), which aims to debunk "long-held misconceptions" about the scale of their involvement.

By 1945, between 50 to 65 percent of non-Jewish German doctors had joined the Nazi party, which represents a "much higher proportion than in any other academic profession," said the 73-page report.

The abhorrent eugenics and euphemistically termed "euthanasia" murder programmes of the Nazis during World War II resulted in "at least 230,000" deaths, including 7,000 to 10,000 children.
The article explains that the Nazi eugenics programme became a pseudo-science and the research conducted during that era continues to effect science today.

The article points out that the research by the famed Austrian anatomist Eduard Pernkopf was derived from Nazi victims. Pernkopf's anatomy atlas was widely used into the 1990's. The past of the founder of German juvenile psychiatry, Elisabeth Hecker, remained unknown until 1995 when it was uncovered that she had ordered the transfer of children to the local killing units.

It is a known fact that the method of gassing people in the Nazi extermination camps was developed between 1939 and 1941 in an effort to kill tens of thousands of institutionalised mental health patients. In other words, the technique of gassing people in the extermination camps was developed by the Nazi euthanasia program.

Healthcare World reported that the Lancet study recommended:
...the study of medicine under Nazism and the Holocaust should be incorporated in health care curricula, as the lack of knowledge "apart from a vague notion of Josef Mengele's experiments in Auschwitz" today is "often surprising".
Healthcare World stated that:
The report was carried out as part of a Lancet Commission that brought together a group of 20 international experts for the first time to examine the history of medicine.
Previous articles on this topic:
  • Berlin Memorial to the victims murdered by the T4 euthanasia program (Link).
  • Contemporary euthanasia program is an updated version of the early 20th Century eugenics (Link).

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Canada's MAiD program has gone "mad"

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director,
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Kelsi Sheren, a Canadian military veteran, witnessed the horrific death of a comrade in Afghanistan. Sheren, who lives with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD,) told the Daily Mail in July, 2023 that 'It's disgusting and it's unacceptable,' that authorities would rather euthanize a soldier than foot the bill for their recovery.

The story of Veterans Affairs employees who advocated (MAiD) euthanasia for veterans living with (PTSD) was reported by Global News in August, 2022. The article states:
A Canadian Forces veteran seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury was shocked when he was unexpectedly and casually offered medical assistance in dying by a Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) employee, sources tell Global News.

Sources say a VAC service agent brought up medical assistance in dying, or MAID, unprompted in the conversation with the veteran. Global News is not identifying the veteran who was seeking treatment.
The Canadian veteran who was living with PTSD was offered euthanasia around the same time as several other stories were reported of people with disabilities who were being approved for, or dying by, euthanasia based on living in poverty or homelessness and were unable to obtain medical treatment.

Canada expanded the euthanasia law (Bill C-7) in March 2021 by removing the requirement that a person must be terminally ill or that their natural death be reasonably foreseeable. By removing the “terminal illness” requirement within the law without adding further requirements, the law became open to euthanasia for anyone with an "irremediable" medical condition. The new euthanasia law stipulates a 90 day waiting period for people who are not terminally ill and allows  same-day death for people who are terminally ill.

The disability community were concerned during the Bill C-7 debate that removing the “terminal illness” requirement in the law would lead to the deaths of people with disabilities based on social reasons. They were right. People with disabilities are being approved for euthanasia based on their medical condition but are requesting euthanasia based on poverty, homelessness, and other social issues.

Rose Finlay
The Daily Mail reported in July, 2023 on Rose Finlay, a woman with quadriplegia who was self-employed for many years, and had become ill. To enable her to live, Finlay applied for disability benefits and learned that it takes 6 to 8 months to be approved for disability benefits in Ontario. However, Finlay was approved for and could die by euthanasia in 90 days. Finlay didn’t want to die by euthanasia but due to her illness was living in poverty.

Rose Finlay is one of many people with disabilities who applied for euthanasia based on poverty but was approved for euthanasia because her disability is defined as being an “irremediable” medical condition.

Joannie Cowie
Joannie Cowie was interviewed by Global News in October 2022. Cowie, who has multiple disabilities, shares an apartment with her daughter, who is also disabled. Cowie told the media that she wants euthanasia because she is trapped in a cycle of poverty. Even though she has an excellent education, she is not employed and she doesn’t receive enough money from her disability benefit to live.

Meagan Nichols, who operates the Mississauga Food Bank, told MacLean’s magazine in November 2022 that some food bank clients were seeking euthanasia in response to the grind of living in poverty.

Amir Farsoud was considering death by euthanasia to avoid homelessness. City News Toronto reported in October 2022 that Farsoud, who lives with constant back pain, had to find a new apartment because his building had a new owner who was planning to renovate the building. Farsoud, who was dependent on disability benefits, couldn’t find another affordable apartment. Farsoud applied for euthanasia based on his disability but he wanted euthanasia based on his fear of homelessness.

Farsoud remains alive because a GoFundMe fundraiser provided him with a new place to live. But Farsoud is the exception to the rule.

CBC News Manitoba reported in October 2022 that Sathya Dhara Kovac, who was living with ALS, died by euthanasia because she lacked adequate home-care services. In writing her obituary, Kovac stated that she had grown exhausted by her failed efforts to get more help with basic needs at home, and this is what drove her to access a medically assisted death.

A woman known as Madeleine makes the issue clear. Madeleine, who accumulated a $40,000 debt trying to treat myalgic encephalomyelitis and other ailments, told Chatelaine magazine in July 2022 that when her money runs out, a medically assisted death may be her only option. Madeleine is living with disability and poverty as she tries to obtain the medical treatment she needs.

Similar to Rose Finlay, Joannie Cowie and Amir Farsoud, Madeleine doesn’t want to die by euthanasia but she believes it may eventually be her only option. These stories represent only some of the real life stories that people with disabilities who live with poverty, homelessness, or have a difficult time getting medical treatment, are experiencing.

Euthanasia for Mental Illness.

When Canada expanded the euthanasia law in March 2021 (Bill C-7) one of the expansions included approving euthanasia for mental illness alone, and it provided a two-year moratorium to give the government time to prepare for this expansion.

The reality surrounding euthanasia for mental illness is concerning.

John Maher
People with disabilities are requesting, and being approved for, euthanasia based on poverty, homelessness and the inability to receive necessary medical treatment. People with mental health issues are often homeless, living in poverty and having difficulty receiving medical treatment.

Psychiatrist, Dr John Maher, has stated that the euthanasia waiting period for Canadians who are not terminally ill, which is 90 days, is shorter than the waiting period to receive psychiatric care which is often much longer than 90 days.

Sonu Gaind
Psychiatrist, Dr Sonu Gaind, who supports euthanasia but opposes it for people with mental illness, told the Toronto Star in February 2023 that:
it’s basically impossible to know in cases of mental illness whether the condition is truly “irremediable,” i.e. cannot be cured or alleviated.
Dr Gaind's statement is important since the law requires that the person must have an "irremediable" medical condition in order to qualify for euthanasia.

Kathrin Mentler
The story of Kathrin Mentler (37), a Canadian who lives with chronic suicidal thoughts was reported by The Tyee
 in August 2023. Mentler, who has lived with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts for many years, was offered euthanasia at the Assessment Centre at the Vancouver General Hospital where Mentler was seeking help for suicidal ideation.

Mentler was told by the counsellor that the mental health system was "completely overwhelmed", there were no available beds, and the earliest that she could talk with a psychiatrist was in about five months. Then the counsellor asked Mentler if she had ever considered medically assisted suicide.

In August 2023 a story was published by the Richmond News explaining that had  euthanasia for mental illness existed in the past, Karim Jessa would be dead. Jessa, in his interview, explains that he opposes euthanasia for mental illness because, when he had hit rock bottom, he would have asked for an assisted death if it had been legal, but now he is a completely different person.

Psychiatrist John Maher stated in an interview with W5 in November 2022:
"There are cycles of illness. Some of it's up and down. It might be years. And then there is a burst of illness and suffering that we then take care of,” Maher said.
He said that MAiD for mental illness, is too close to suicide for his comfort.
“You're assisting someone in the completion of their suicide. The doctor is the sanitised gun,".
One of Maher's key concerns is how anyone can determine if someone with a mental illness is incurable, as is required by the legislation.
"I'm not at all disagreeing that there are people who have an irremediable illness. What I defy you or any other person in the universe to prove to me is that it's this person in front of you.”
Canada's euthanasia law has led to the abandonment of people with disabilities who are living with poverty, homelessness, have difficulty obtaining necessary medical treatment, and are living under unacceptable social conditions. 

Canada's euthanasia law is scheduled to expand to include euthanasia for psychological conditions on March 17, 2024. The result of this decision will be more of the same, except for the people with psychiatric conditions who will be encouraged to die.

Canada's euthanasia law has abandoned people living with difficult conditions to death.

Canada's euthanasia (MAiD) program has gone "mad".

More articles on this topic:

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Fighting Back Against Legalised Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

Message from the Australian Care Alliance

Euthanasia and assisted suicide will, when the NSW Act comes into operation on November 28, be legal in 26 jurisdictions – including all six Australian states.

In Colombia, Italy, Germany, Austria and Canada it became legal following decisions of high courts based on an alleged constitutional or charter right.

In the Netherlands, euthanasia was first declared legal by courts interpreting the defence of “force majeure” (in the common law the “defence of necessity”) to mean that when a doctor is faced with otherwise unrelievable suffering in the patient he or she is, as it were, forced to kill the patient if the patient requests it.

In some US States, such as Oregon, assisted suicide became legal following a popular vote.

In all other jurisdictions, including the Australian states it came about as a decision of the legislature or Parliament.


In every case, legalisation creates an exception to the otherwise universally applied criminal laws prohibiting murder – to which consent is never a valid defence – and assisting a person to suicide.

Legalisation also abandons a public policy commitment to suicide prevention for all – in Australia commonly referred to as a “Towards Zero” policy. 

These carve outs from the criminal law and from suicide prevention efforts are based on the idea that some people are right to think they are better off dead. It then becomes a good thing for the State to authorise health practitioners (or in Germany anyone at all) to either supply the person with a lethal substance to commit suicide by ingesting it or directly administer a lethal substance to kill them. 

Generally, the public and parliamentary case for legalisation has been based at first on a claim that a small number of terminally ill (or chronically ill) people cannot be adequately helped by palliative care so that direct killing – by suicide or euthanasia – is the only way to provide them with a peaceful death. 

This has been combined with an argument that the choice to end one’s life is a valid exercise of autonomy. This argument has most often been advanced by the white, well and wealthy.

For example, James Downar, a pioneer of euthanasia in Ontario, has described the typical case as involving a self-willed captain of industry who demands the right to exit on his own terms because that is how he manages the rest of his affairs. 

Reported deaths by assisted suicide in 2022 accounted for 0.43% of all deaths of white Californians – 27 times the rate for blacks and 14 times the rate for Hispanics. 

However, there is accumulating evidence that once legalised euthanasia becomes a threat to more vulnerable people. 

Since 1998, 125 Oregonians have died from ingesting a prescribed lethal substance after expressing concerns about the financial cost of treatment. 

In Canada, euthanasia is now being openly offered as an alternative “solution” for poverty, homelessness and disability, including the notorious offer of euthanasia to a female veteran and Paralympian as an alternative to waiting for a stair chair. 

From March 2024 euthanasia will also be offered as a “solution” for people dealing with mental illness as it already is in the Netherlands and Belgium. 

Two cases from the Netherlands highlight the tragic abandonment involved in this approach: 

A man in his 60s with Asperger’s, described as “an utterly lonely man whose life had been a failure”, was euthanased because he was “horrified at moving into sheltered accommodation”. Although he had been diagnosed with “severe and probably chronic depression with a persistent death wish” another psychiatrist, after seeing him just once, certified that he was free of depression in order to facilitate his euthanasia. 

Another man in his 30s, also with Asperger’s, was euthanased based on his distress at “his continuous yearning for meaningful relationships and his repeated frustrations in this area, because of his inability to deal adequately with closeness and social contacts”. 

In Belgium, persistent suicidal ideation is now accepted as valid grounds for euthanasia. 

In opposition to the notion of being Better Off Dead is the wonderfully named disability group NOT DEAD YET! 

These are some of their astute observations on assisted suicide, based on their lived experience of disability: 

Although intractable pain has been emphasized as the primary reason for enacting assisted suicide laws, the top five reasons Oregon doctors report for issuing lethal prescriptions are all disability issues: “loss of autonomy”, “less able to engage in activities”, “loss of dignity” “loss of control of bodily functions” and “feelings of being a burden”. 

In judging that an assisted suicide request is rational, essentially, doctors are concluding that a person’s physical disabilities and dependence on others for everyday needs are sufficient grounds to treat them completely differently than they would treat a physically able-bodied suicidal person. There’s an established body of research demonstrating that physicians underrate the quality of life of people with disabilities compared with our own assessments. Nevertheless, the physician’s ability to render these judgments accurately remains unquestioned. Steps that could address the person’s concerns, such as home care services to relieve feelings of burdening family, are not explored. In this flawed world view, suicide prevention is irrelevant.


In Victoria it is not sufficient for a doctor to agree that you are better off dead before being able to kill you. You also need a formal permit from the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Victoria boasts of its 68 so-called safeguards but these are illusory. Mostly they just require ticking a box. 

Dr Nick Carr was found to have acted unprofessionally and fined when he failed to get the required two people to actually witness an applicant sign the final request form. 

However, no action has been taken against the Secretary of Health for issuing a permit based on that unverified application despite the VAD Review Board clerk picking up the error. 

A recent Freedom of Information request obtaining Review Board minutes has revealed that the Board is more focused on threatening and persecuting any aged care or health facilities that resist euthanasia and assisted suicide or doctors that criticise its implementation than in preventing abuses. 

After receiving a report of a person having a seizure after ingesting the lethal poison prescribed under a State issued permit, the members of the Board with clinical experience simply claimed that the seizure was unlikely to be related to the ingestion of the substance – showing no awareness that this was a reported complication in Oregon. 

In response to reports of some deaths from assisted suicide being unduly prolonged the Board recommended more recourse to euthanasia instead. 

The promise of a peaceful death by assisted suicide or euthanasia is a false promise – the complication rate reported in Oregon averages 7.5% each year. 

In the Netherlands, complications occurred in 3% of cases of euthanasia, including spasm or muscular twitching, cyanosis (blue colouring of the skin), nausea or vomiting, tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), excessive production of mucus, hiccups, perspiration, and extreme gasping. In one case the patient’s eyes remained open, and in another case, the patient sat up. 

In 10% of cases the person took longer than expected to die (median 3 hours) with one person taking up to 7 days.

In Victoria and other Australian states there is no requirement for reporting complications.


Assisted suicide and euthanasia laws usually require that a request be voluntary and free of coercion. To be truly voluntary a request would need to be not just free of overt coercion but also free from undue influence, subtle pressures and familial or societal expectations. 

A regime in which assisted suicide is made legal and in which the decision to ask for assisted suicide is positively affirmed as a wise choice in itself creates a framework in which a person with low self-esteem or who is more susceptible to the influence of others may well express a request for assisted suicide that the person would otherwise never have considered.

 Elder abuse, including from adult children with “inheritance impatience” is a growing problem in Australia. This makes legalising assisting suicide unsafe for the elderly.

Some supporters of assisted suicide don’t care if some people are bullied into killing themselves under an assisted suicide law. AS Dr Henry Marsh, a British neurosurgeon and proponent of legalising assisted suicide and euthanasia, put it "Even if a few grannies get bullied into [suicide], isn’t that the price worth paying for all the people who could die with dignity?".


Courts in the Netherlands have now authorised the direct killing by administration of a lethal substance of a person who is declaring they want to live and physically resisting the administration of the substance if a doctor considers them to no longer be fully competent and the conditions of a previously made advanced directive for euthanasia to be present. 

Signing a document stating that “If I ever have to go to a nursing home and I am no longer competent to decide, then I authorise in advance a doctor to kill me” is sufficient to justify what would otherwise be murder.


Go Gentle founder, Andrew Denton, was forced to admit to the Project when pressed that “There is no guarantee ever that doctors are going to be 100% right”. 

Whether it is a wrong diagnosis, faulty prognosis, failure to offer effective treatment or missing depression or coercion, there are people wrongly killed by euthanasia in each of the 26 fatally flawed experiments in legalised euthanasia or assisted suicide.


It was claimed during the parliamentary debate in Victoria that legalisation would prevent 50 suicides each year. Not only has there been no such decline, but there were 62 more suicides in Victoria in 2022 than in 2017, when this claim was made. The suicide rate among those aged over 65 years increased in Victoria between 2019 and 2022 by 42 per cent—five times the increase in New South Wales. 

The international evidence shows decisively that legalising assisted suicide and euthanasia does not prevent suicide and probably increases non-authorised suicide as well as the overall suicide rate. 

We need to reaffirm suicide prevention for all and not abandon those we think would be better off dead by affirming suicide or euthanasia as a valid choice.


Be informed – See Australian Care Alliance website – especially under FACTS. 

Some hope – in Canada a recent attempt to prevent euthanasia for mental illness coming into force on March 2024 as scheduled was defeated by just 17 votes – 167 to 150. 

In Australia we need to analyse the evidence and keep criticising the dangers of the euthanasia program. 

In 1941, Hans and Sophie Scholl read the powerful denunciation of the Nazi’s Action T4 euthanasia of the disabled program by Bishop von Galen. In her trial for treason for the distribution of the White Rose leaflets urging opposition to Hitler and Nazism, Sophie said “Somebody, after all, had to make a start”. Professor Kurt Huber, who also was executed as a participant in the White Rose group, said the leaflets aimed “To call out the truth as clearly and audibly as possible into the German night”. 

We need to be those who “make a start” and “call out the truth”, and refuse to co-operate with in any way or to accept as permanent the euthanasia and assisted suicide regimes.