What you can say to others
Wherever you can, be personal. If you have valued the final days or weeks of the life of a loved one to say goodbye, reconcile differences, and cherish those final moments talk about that. Highlight how assisted suicide and euthanasia can cut off those opportunities.
Suicide is always a tragedy
This law would normalise suicide. Trying to hide the reality by calling it by another name does not change the fact. Suicide is a tragedy. It is a choice that always has consequences for others. It makes no sense to fund suicide prevention for some people, yet assist others to suicide.
The fact that 68 safeguards have been recommended shows that there at least 68 ways that this can go wrong. To assume that there won’t be tragic mistakes is naive. It was for this reason that Victoria removed the death penalty. The law cannot be made perfectly safe for everyone.
Once doctors abandon the traditional promise to “do no harm” and assist people to take their lives instead, the practice of medicine changes forever. For good reasons, medical associations around the world including the Australian Medical Association do not endorse assisted suicide and euthanasia.
We know that many elderly people are abused and taken advantage of. It is easy to see how this legislation could open the door to elderly people committing suicide because they are made to feel a burden by others.
Even if people understand and consent when requesting assisted suicide, there is no assurance that they are still of sound mind and not subject to coercion when they actually take the medication (which could occur much later than the original request). Furthermore, since health care professionals do not have to be present at the time the lethal drugs are ingested, it is hard to see how consent could be guaranteed.
Australia has world-class palliative care; however, the shortfall in the availability of palliative care in Victoria is well-documented. Instead of assisting people to suicide we should be providing better funding for palliative care so that all Victorians can have equal access to it.
People with disabilities often recount that they are regularly made to feel that their lives are less worth living than others. Assisted suicide confirms and amplifies this experience for people with disabilities because the reasons given for assisted suicide are things they regularly face. We should be supporting people to live well. It is too easy for an “option” to die to become an “obligation” for others.