The state of Victoria, Australia, became the first state in the country to legalize assisted suicide in 2017. By September of 2020, the number of deaths by assisted suicide were 10 times higher than what officials had predicted, though activists against euthanasia were unsurprised. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrew had notoriously predicted a mere dozen deaths in a year, with 124 people opting to die instead.
Now, a new report shows that that trend of increasing deaths continued throughout the rest of 2020.
The Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board released a Report of Operations for July through December of 2020. Overall, virtually every facet of assisted suicide has grown. More doctors are signing up to participate in the deaths of their patients, with an increase of 31.6%, while the number of “confirmed deaths from practitioner administration” — meaning the patient was euthanized instead of taking the medication themselves — grew by nearly 82%. The number of people requesting assisted suicide also grew by 30.9%.
Worryingly, the data notes that family members or friends are contacting doctors to initiate assisted suicide nearly as often as the person wanting to die. About 36% of the time, people seeking assisted suicide sought out the service themselves. But 22% of the time, it was a family member or friend contacting a physician. The rep—ort does not delve into the possibility of coercion that this data suggests.
Wesley Smith, chair and senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism, told the Christian Post that the legalization of assisted suicide normalizes it, thereby making killing oneself something acceptable. “Once you legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia, then the effort comes to normalize that as the better way of dying,” he said. “[It’s called] ‘death with dignity,’ right? As if dying naturally isn’t dignified. And you generally see in a consistent pattern of an ever-increasing number of people who die by euthanasia … or assisted suicide.”
He also explained that the increases in people choosing to die are to be expected.
“[T]his is a very consistent pattern,” he said. “Once it’s legalized, you wind up with more and more people doing it because it becomes normalized. And you’ll always see a lot of media stories that promote this. … [The media and pop culture] all play a part in promoting this as the best way to [die].”
The next step, Smith said, is for restrictions on assisted suicide to be loosened. “They become obstacles, they become burdens and you begin to see a loosening process,” he said. “The ultimate end goal, by the way, whether they intend it or not, but certainly the end outcome is going to be death on demand because once you say that killing is an acceptable answer to human suffering, how do you limit it in any way?”
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