Victorian medical oncologist Dr Marion Harris has penned a powerful piece against Tasmania’s End of Life Bill saying “it is one of the most liberal pieces of euthanasia legislation in the world”.
Her objections follow the revelation that Victoria approved 124 deaths in its first year of its assisted suicide scheme – that’s more than two per week – more than ten times as many as Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ predicted “dozen”.
Dr Harris said she was shocked to read the bill which has few safeguards and broad eligibility criteria, and “would profoundly affect families, the practice of medicine and all of society”.
At a time when Australians are struggling more than ever due to the current pandemic with everything from financial pressures, to mental health issues and difficulty in accessing health services, it is exceedingly irresponsible for the Tasmanian government to push a bill that in Dr Harris’ words, “offers a message of despair and hopelessness that cannot be known to be true”.
Women, in particular, are facing a surge in domestic violence, increased risks of homelessness, and are being hit particularly hard by the economic fallout from the pandemic.
Compound such dire circumstances on top of a serious incurable medical condition (which does not need to be terminal) and the conceivable depression that could come with either, and throw in a bill that allows lethal drugs to be administered within as little as one week from first request and you have a recipe for disaster (and a fatal, irreversible one at that).
While far less “economical” than lethal drugs, a government that really cared about its people would focus on genuine care for those who are suffering, including the provision of high quality palliative care and support services for the ill, elderly and disabled, which remain underfunded.
Rachael Wong is the CEO of Women’s Forum Australia