Be Aware and Beware of What You Demand – A Case Against State-Backed Euthanasia

by Selwyn Manning, Evening Report, 4 October 2016

In an editorial Mr Manning explains how his opposition to the legalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide was confirmed during the 1990s health reforms, which he covered as a reporter.

I reflect back to the mid-1990s to an investigation I wrote that exposed how the government was to enforce exclusion criteria designed to prevent people from accessing life-saving but expensive treatments. If you were blind, intellectually disabled, had a history of mental illness, anti-social behaviour, a criminal conviction – you would be excluded from having renal dialysis. The experience of reporting this confirmed my resolve against state-backed-euthanasia.

Mr Manning quotes from a speech by David Lange in the House on 1 September 1994:

I have to tell members that those key ethical principles are not determined by one’s condition, and they are not determined by one’s state; they are determined by one’s status. If one is intellectually handicapped, the drip goes off. If one is intellectually handicapped, one does not get what is called end-stage renal treatment, and that means one dies. They are very good at euphemisms—“modernisation”. The word “euthanasia” does not come into it; it is “determination of end-stage renal treatment”.

Let us come back to the crude reality of it. Value judgments are being made about people’s lives, and those value judgments will be affected by whether they are people of influence, standing, or status. If they are psychiatrically disturbed or if they are intellectually disabled, the tap is turned off; they stand on the air pipe, and they talk about it in terms of core ethical commitments. I absolutely repudiate that.

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