(Reported by ARPA Australia)
Victoria will become Australia’s first state to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide, with a bill passing the state’s upper house 22 votes to 18 after a marathon 28-hour sitting. From 2019, Victorians who are deemed to be terminally ill with a life expectancy of less than six months will be able to take their own life using a yet-to-be-determined cocktail of lethal drugs. This sad result overshadows relief at the narrow defeat of euthanasia laws by one vote in the New South Wales upper house last Thursday, and previous defeats in Tasmania (last May) and South Australia (November 2016). Emboldened by their success in Victoria, it will only be a matter of time before euthanasia advocates will try to legalise it again in other states. In South Australia they have already tried 15 times.
We are concerned for elderly Victorians, who will become more vulnerable with the passage of this legislation. According to a statement released by the Australian Christian Lobby today, 40% of the 60,000 people in aged care in Victoria do not even get one visit in a year. Palliative Care Victoria estimates that 10,000 Victorians each year die without adequate palliative care. These appalling statistics are cause for reflection. As we engage in efforts to stop euthanasia at a political level, do we also reach out in love on a personal level to the thousands around us who are elderly, alone and who might one day be tempted to choose euthanasia because of loneliness or a fear that they are a burden on society?
In Western Australia, a Parliamentary ‘End of Life Choices’ committee has uploaded more than 120 submissions to its website. At this point in time it still needs to process and upload the submissions received during the final two weeks of last month’s consultation process. It’s great to see that the majority of submissions which have been released to the public so far are against euthanasia.