Australian state to legalize assisted suicide
VICTORIA, Australia, November 22, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The Australian state of Victoria is about to be the first in that country to legalize physician-assisted suicide and some euthanasia after its upper chamber of government voted to do so 22-18.
“The chamber began the session on Tuesday just after noon, sitting for more than 28 hours straight,” The Guardian reported.
The bill already passed the lower chamber 47-37 last month, meaning it’s all but officially become law. A final version will go back to the lower chamber to be approved.
The bill originally would have allowed doctor-prescribed death for Victoria residents told they have 12 months or fewer to live. The newer version that ultimately passed only allows it for patients told they have six months to live.
If a patient is unable to kill himself by personally taking the lethal dose of drugs, “a lethal injection may be administered,” The Guardian reported.
“While it is never easy to face the end of life of a loved one, we cannot support this kind of legalisation however it is described,” Victoria’s Catholic bishops wrote in a pastoral letter in April 2017. “Assistance in our time of dying is something that we should all want for ourselves and for others – however, this should not involve a lethal injection or offering a lethal dose.”
“Euthanasia and assisted suicide are the opposite of care and represent the abandonment of the sick and the suffering, of older and dying persons,” they wrote.
The bishops warned that assisted suicide legislation is usually introduced first as only for people with a bleak medical prognosis.
But “the evidence from jurisdictions where assisted suicide and euthanasia are practiced legally show that incremental changes follow over time once the notion that some lives are not worth living becomes accepted in the community,” they said.
“Euthanasia for children was adopted in Belgium in 2014,” the bishops continued. “Likewise, euthanasia for psychological illness is now legal in Belgium. In Holland, there is pressure to allow assisted suicide for people over the age of 70 who have simply become ‘tired of life’.”
The pastoral letter was signed by Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne, Bishop Paul Bird of Ballarat, Bishop Patrick O’Regan of Sale, and Bishop Les Tomlinson of Sandhurst.
The Archdiocese of Melbourne has an entire section on its website devoted to refuting myths about assisted suicide and euthanasia.
The reason the bill took so long to pass is thanks to “extreme filibusters...tried by a small group of mostly religiously motivated MPs,” The Age reported.
MP Bernie Finn said the law represents a “new low for society.”
The law will take effect in 2019.
There has been a large push to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia in many Western countries over the past decade or two. Belgium and the Netherlands have some of the most liberal euthanasia laws. The practice is also legal in Canada and Switzerland.
In Europe, citizens of countries without assisted suicide and euthanasia travel to death clinics in Switzerland for “suicide tourism.”
Assisted suicide is legal in California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, Washington state, and the District of Columbia. It’s technically is illegal in Montana, but doctors there may use a defense of consent if prosecuted.
Assisted suicide legislation has been introduced across the U.S. over the past few years. It has been defeated dozens of times at the state level.