Bp Richard Condie writes:
The End of Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill) has recently been tabled in the Legislative Council and will be debated over the coming weeks. The Bill is a cause of concern to me for a number of reasons.
As Christians we affirm that every life is valuable, regardless of the state of the person, because we are made in God’s image (Gen 1:27). We therefore believe that our life and death is in the providential hands of God. The Psalmist affirms that “our times are in his hands” (Ps 31:14), and we know that it is God who determines our length of days. Our lives are not our own, but we belong to the creator (1 Cor 6:19). We know that often people suffer from illnesses and that these are part of our human condition. We express compassion for those who suffer, knowing that Christ himself entered into our embodied humanity, and shared the griefs and trials of our human condition.
While we do not expect wider Tasmanian society or our law makers to necessarily hold to Christian ideals, the “sanctity of life” is not only a religious idea but the foundation of many of our laws and many government programs. We have just had the most unprecedented restriction of our economy to protect lives from the threat of Coronavirus based on this idea that life is worth saving.
The proposed legislation allows for a person to take their own life with the assistance of a medical practitioner. While the legislation calls this “assisted dying” and stops the death being recorded as a “suicide”, this is exactly what it is – a suicide, the taking of one’s own life. The suicide of its citizens should never be allowed or encouraged by a government.
I have concerns about the inadequate protections in the Bill for the vulnerable in our society. We have an alarming problem with elder abuse, and while the legislation tries to mitigate the risk of a person being coerced into accessing it, one can imagine this may happen in some families. If just one elderly Tasmanian is pressured into taking their own life under the legislation, that will be one too many. Another concern that I have is that the legislation has not been subject to a great deal of scrutiny. Some information sessions have been held but have been inadequate in testing the legislation. We need to call on our Parliamentarians to support full consultation on the Bill."
What can you do?
1. Check out this website - https://livendiewell.org
2. It is good to hand-write and post letters to local Members Parliament. (All letters can be posted to ‘Parliament House Hobart 7000’). The next best is to print, sign and post a letter. If you can only write one letter, please address it to ‘The Premier’ or email firstname.lastname@example.org .Another option is to phone the Premier’s office (6165 7650) and leave a message.
A letter/phone-call/email need not be long. See the below example:
Thank you for your service to Tasmania, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Tasmanian lives really do matter which is why I am writing to ask that you establish an inquiry into end-of-life matters in Tasmania before Mike Gaffney’s End-of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020 is debated.
This is because I have been informed that Mr Gaffney’s bill allows for people to request to be euthanized even if they have no physical suffering at the time. I also believe that palliative care in Tasmania is underfunded and that many people don’t understand their end-of-life choices.
Your name and address