Just last week, Western Australia became the second Australian state to legalize assisted suicide, as a law passed in 2019 took effect. Western Australia’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Act was patterned on legislation passed in 2017 in the state of Victoria. Now, four years after a failed first try, a Member of Parliament in the state of New South Wales has announced his intent to re-introduce Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation in August, with the aim for his state’s bill to mirror the legislation in Victoria and Western Australia.
The bill may face tough opposition, as the Australian publication The Catholic Weekly noted that the state’s premier, Gladys Berejiklian, and a leader of the NSW Labor Opposition Party, Chris Minns, have already committed to opposing assisted suicide. The Catholic Church is also raising awareness as to the dangers of voluntary assisted dying. To coincide with the bill’s introduction, the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney will host three weeks of talks by medical experts, including palliative care doctors, sounding the alarm about the dangers of legalizing assisted suicide.
Sydney’s Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher called assisted suicide legislation an effort to “sugarcoat state-sanctioned killing” that would indeed be a “disastrous move” for New South Wales. He unequivocally identified voluntary assisted dying legislation as “diametrically opposed to the spirit that inspires the care Catholic institutions offer.” The Catholic Weekly recently described in detail the extent to which weak conscience protections in Western Australia’s voluntary assisted dying law will negatively impact Catholic healthcare organizations and professionals.
Commenting on observations from Victoria’s two years of voluntary assisted dying, Fisher stated, “Already in Australia’s short experience of this we have found the law applied to far more people than was first expected and there has already been a concerted campaign to relax the supposed ‘safeguards’ that were put in place to sell those laws.” Furthermore, “[l]ooking overseas we see voluntary assisted suicide laws in some countries, originally applicable on a voluntary basis for dying adults only, gradually extended to those whose condition is not terminal, or not even medical, and to children and the unconscious.”
Further opposition to assisted suicide legislation in New South Wales comes from the Christian Medical and Dental Fellowship of Australia (CMDFA), which has petitioned Premier Berejiklian to reject the legislation as she promised. The organization’s national chair said, “The CMDFA agrees with the World Medical Association that the practice of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide is unethical and must be condemned by the medical profession.”
In the last few months alone, Live Action News has covered story after story of the push to legalize or expand assisted suicide in Canada, Ireland, Colombia, Austria, Germany, Scotland, and the United Kingdom.
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