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Voluntary assisted dying bill defeated in NSW upper house

by Sean Nicholls, The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 November 2017

The debate was opened by Labor health spokesman, Walt Secord, who acknowledged the “strong, emotional, compassionate desire behind [the bill]”.

But he added: “I have not yet seen it possible to develop adequate legislative safeguards to protect people from the misuse of these laws.”

“I have not yet seen a legislative model in this area that cannot be exploited or manipulated. And I cannot support any gaps for exploitation when the consequences are so final”.

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Assisted dying legislation creates different categories of human life

by Emma Dawson, The Age, 16 October 2017

Last month, Go Gentle released a short film designed to be “almost unwatchable” in its re-enactment of a man’s death, his unbearable suffering and that of his family. By relying on this horror show to make their argument, the wealthy, white, middle-aged folk behind Go Gentle are exploiting people’s deepest fears rather than making a rational case for legislative change.

The demographic make-up of the lobby group is significant. The push for assisted dying worldwide is driven by wealthy Western baby boomers who have enjoyed over their lifetimes a relative freedom from serious illness and a level of personal autonomy unprecedented in human history.

With our first world medical care and significant economic privilege, we have apparently reached a state of “peak wellness” in which defeating the force of death is the last battle.

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Euthanasia: Doctors’ licence to kill limits aged-care options

by Angela Shanahan, The Australian, 21 October 2017

For all the talk of autonomy, euthanasia is giving doctors a ­licence to kill. Of course, we must ask ourselves how institutionalising this practice will affect the care of the disabled and particularly the frail aged. How far will it lead to a ­euthanasia mentality? ­Already doctors have expressed concern that more resources will go towards people who want ­assisted suicide than those who want palliative care.

The head of palliative care at St Vincent’s in Melbourne has pointed out the illogicality of the Victorian legislation, which will, if a terminally ill person wants euthanasia, allow for multiple medical and psychiatric assessments — but the same resources will not be available for a person who wants palliative care. In effect, we will prioritise suicide over palliative care. There is something gravely wrong in that logic.

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Paul Keating: Voluntary euthanasia is a threshold moment for Australia, and one we should not cross

by Paul Keating, The Age, 19 October 2017

The justifications offered by the bill’s advocates – that the legal conditions are stringent or that the regime being authorised will be conservative – miss the point entirely. What matters is the core intention of the law. What matters is the ethical threshold being crossed. What matters is that under Victorian law there will be people whose lives we honour and those we believe are better off dead.

One of the inevitable aspects of debates about euthanasia is the reluctance on the part of advocates to confront the essence of what they propose. In this case it means permitting physicians to intentionally kill patients or assisting patients in killing themselves. Understandably, the medical profession is gravely concerned by this venture.

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Deputy Premier says Labor’s death Bill is risky and bad legislation

by James Dowling, Herald Sun, 11 October 2017

Mr Merlino said the issue was not part of an election campaign and the person “on the street” would be surprised to learn euthanasia laws will be introduced to parliament next week.

Mr Merlino said the “risky and bad legislation” amounted to a pro-suicide Bill and has lobbied his colleagues to vote against it.

“I think this has come along without a lot of public awareness.

“I think it needs a longer, deeper engagement with all areas of our society.”

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Language as a battlefield: How we got from euthanasia to voluntary assisted dying

by Karl Quinn, The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 October 2017

Call them dying words if you will, but the language around this issue has long been a battlefield, both here and in the handful of places worldwide where some form of euthanasia has already been legalised (Switzerland came first, in 1942).

In Australia, advocacy group Go Gentle has combed through historical opinion polls to show strong support for euthanasia legislation (as high as 85 per cent) dating back to 2007.

But as The Conversation noted in May when fact-checking author Nikki Gemmell’s claim on Q&A that 80 per cent of Australians “support euthanasia laws”, that support varies significantly depending on how the question is framed, and what language is used. Use the word “suicide”, for instance, and support plummets. 

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Legalise euthanasia, and compassionate society dies too

by Paul Kelly, The Australian, 1 October 2016

The justification for euthanasia lies in human rights, individual autonomy and relieving pain — all worthy ideas, and that may prompt the question: why then is euthanasia still opposed by most nations, most medical professional bodies around the world and the Australian Medical Association?

The reason is not hard to find. It is because crossing the threshold to euthanasia is the ultimate step in medical, moral and social terms. A polity is never the same afterwards and a society is never the same. It changes forever the doctor-patient bond. It is because, in brutal but honest terms, more people will be put at risk by the legislation than will be granted relief as beneficiaries.

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Doctors appeal to Vic MPs to vote down assisted dying bill

by Jane Lee, PM (ABC Radio), 16 October 2017

A number of doctors with patients nearing the end of their lives insist that an assisted dying scheme is dangerous and unnecessary, a day before the Victorian Parliament is set to debate a bill that could make it legal.

The geriatric medicine and palliative care specialists say they are concerned that the safeguards in the bill are not enough to prevent “wrongful” deaths, or to protect patients from being coerced into applying for lethal medication.

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Marine Corps veteran: I’m thankful I wasn’t offered assisted suicide when I was told I was dying three years ago

by J.J. Hanson, Fox News, 30 September 2017

J.J. Hanson is a terminal brain cancer patient, U.S. Marine Corps veteran of Iraq and president of Patients Rights Action Fund.

Assisted suicide laws require a prognosis of six months or less to live, but how can we let our life-and-death decisions rest on these prognoses, when even the most experienced doctors are often wrong? My own experience reveals how tragic that could turn out to be.

We also know from the 2016 Oregon Health Report that in Oregon, which 20 years ago became the first state to make assisted suicide legal, only 4 percent of patients considering ending their lives were referred for psychological evaluation.

Yet a 2008 study, published in the peer-reviewed medical journal The BMJ, revealed that 25 percent of patients requesting assisted suicide suffered from major depressive disorder. These numbers suggest that people with mental illness could well be prescribed a death-too-soon, instead of the treatment they deserve.

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