QED

Euthanasia: Victoria Flatlines

It breaks my heart that euthanasia will be legal in Victoria this week. Once upon a time, I was ‘pro voluntary euthanasia’ too. After all, it equates to being on the ‘human’ side of the argument, does it not?

Why should any person have to live in pain? Isn’t it about quality of life, not quantity of life? If an animal is in pain, we euthanise it, so what’s the difference?

The answers to these questions are what made me believe that ‘voluntary euthanasia’ was the only humane option for the terminally ill or those with insufferable pain. But my personal experience has taught me something entirely different. It has revealed to me the ‘grey’ areas behind the scenes that get swept away amongst the day-to-day politics and point-scoring.

It’s all very well to promote euthanasia under the guise of personal freedom. ‘Their life, their choice’ kinda slogans — if only the reality was that simplistic. Legislation for voluntary euthanasia allows practitioner administration, which means a physician can make the final decision about your life — and often their decisions are and will be wrong.

Every week in the media, another case of elderly abuse is revealed yet, according to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, up to 14 per cent of elderly Australians experience abuse in any given year. Where are all the media stories on each and every one of them?

If up to 14 per cent of elderly Australians can be physically, mentally, and financially abused in any given year, one cannot begin to fathom how many elderly folk will be pressured into so-called ‘voluntary’ euthanasia.

And don’t think it can’t happen, it already happens behind the scenes in aged-care homes, hospices and hospitals globally. I have witnessed it with my own eyes, as have numerous others. A quick google search will bring up hundreds of thousands of’ incidents.

Laws do not prevent these crimes. Vulnerable elderly people can be pressured behind closed doors by family members and it can be made to appear that it was a ‘voluntary’ decision, when in fact it wasn’t.

The Australian media paints an untrue narrative. Manipulatively, it downplays the numbers of medicos globally opposed to euthanasia. It’s well worth mentioning that the World Medical Association is also anti-euthanasia, as are 99 per cent of it’s national medical associations. On the WMA website, it clearly states:

Physicians-assisted suicide, like euthanasia, is unethical and must be condemned by the medical profession. Where the assistance of the physician is intentionally and deliberately directed at enabling an individual to end his or her own life, the physician acts unethically. However the right to decline medical treatment is a basic right of the patient and the physician does not act unethically even if respecting such a wish results in the death of the patient.

Originally, euthanasia was the legal killing of a human being who was suffering a painful and incurable terminal disease or illness. But now, in places like The Netherlands, euthanasia is available to the depressed and mentally ill.

The legalisation of euthanasia in Victoria is the start of a slippery slope to hell. Each state will follow suit and in the future if your life is viewed as non-productive the pressure and the means to see it terminated will be there, ready and at hand. Toodle pip and bon voyage as they say. NEXT…!

Australians against euthanasia aren’t sadists. We don’t lie awake at night fantasising of the insufferable pain of others, nor do we practice blood rituals or voodoo. Put simply, we are a group of people who can see the fifty shades of grey.

Where is the personal freedom for the elderly person whose life is hastened? My heart lays with them this week as their vulnerable predicament within Australian society sky-rockets.

Vanessa de Largie is an actress, writer and sex columnist

14 comments
  • Salome

    I watched ABC News (well, news-magazine) on Sunday night. Mr Andrews was interviewed, explaining that euthanasia under the new laws is only for people with less than six months to live who are in intolerable pain. He then went on to talk about ‘loneliness’, ‘dignity’ and ‘control’ over one’s death. What about all the lonely people who aren’t in intolerable pain with less than six months of natural life left? What about those who are not in intolerable pain, but who have lost control of their functions and don’t feel all that dignified by having others clean up after them, what about all those not in intolerable pain with less than six months to live who might like to control the day, hour, place and audience for their death? Are these the slippery slope to general availability? It would appear, if Dan is an indication, that Parliament has legislated for one thing while having its sights set on something far broader.

  • whitelaughter

    ultimately, it will all be about money. Governments wanting to reduce their health bills will turn a blind eye to greedy offspring wanting to cap grandma for the inheritance.

  • lloveday

    If pain is intolerable (which strictly it can’t be or it would cause instant death), one can stop intaking food, and particularly, fluid, and be dead within a few days, less time than it would take to arrange for someone else to legally kill you.
    .
    If the pain is already intolerable, hunger and thirst won’t make it worse, indeed, as I read, but have not experienced:
    At first, you will feel the same as you did before starting Voluntary Stopping of Eating and Drinking (VSED). After a few days your energy levels will decrease and you will become less mentally alert and more sleepy. Most people begin to go in and out of consciousness by the third day and later become unarousable. Hunger pangs and thirst may occur the first day, but these sensations are usually tolerable; discomfort can be alleviated with mild sedatives or other techniques such as mouth swabs, lip balm and cool water rinses.
    .
    Unless I’m one of the lucky ones who die quickly (eg from a heart attack, stroke or accident), I’ve long figured I’ll join ex-PM McEwen and go that way – I’m with Einstein who said when he refused an operation on his brain ” “It is distasteful to prolong life artificially. I have done my share; it is time to go. I will do it elegantly”.
    And I don’t reckon having someone else determine if I’m eligible to be killed and then being killed by, or under the guidance of someone, elegant.

  • Doubting Thomas

    Look on the bright side, people. The only people that they will be killing are Victorians. Every cloud has a silver lining. 🙂

  • deric davidson

    1. We need to have first class palliative care Australia wide before we give any thought to so called ‘voluntary’ euthanasia. Every citizen should have palliative care available to them. That’s where the money needs to go. Suicide or suffer are not the only alternative options.
    2. Who makes decisions for the children?
    3. As the writer has indicated the requirement of ‘intolerable (uncontrollable?) pain and only weeks to live’ is no longer the criteria OS where euthanasia is available for just about any reason!
    4. On the one hand we are spending money fighting rising suicide rates, on the other we are promoting suicide as a good way out of this life. This is contradictory madness.

  • lloveday

    “On the one hand we are spending money fighting rising suicide rates, on the other we are promoting suicide as a good way out of this life. This is contradictory madness”.
    .
    It would more understandable if we had discrete groups fighting the first and promoting the second, but it appears to me that many people, and especially politicians, are in both groups – extreme “contradictory madness”.
    .
    “Who makes decisions for the children?”
    .
    The Telegraph (UK) reported that Belgium authorised euthanasia of a nine and an 11-year-old. (telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/08/07/belgium-authorised-euthanasia-terminally-nine-11-year-old-youngest/).
    I call that MURDER.

  • padraic

    White laughter is right. It is all about money. They see old people as a waste of money. Another factor is the dislike by the Left, particularly the Greens, of older citizens and their voting patterns, so the less of them the better. You saw this dislike illustrated in the policies of the ALP and Greens in the recent election. Loveday is also right to point out their conflicted values over suicide. The article in today’s Australian said the same thing when at the bottom of the article about “assisted suicide” (i.e state sponsored killing of citizens) there appeared the phone numbers of organizations that try to talk people out of suicide. I suspect it was an example of “tongue in cheek”, but it certainly made the point.

  • whitelaughter

    And of course, no accident that calls for Death Duties to be reintroduced are making the rounds. What bet that number crunchers are calculating how many oldies they need to cap to balance the state budgets?

  • Bwana Neusi

    There is a fine line between “Voluntary” and “Involuntary” and my guess is that we will follow the slippery slope of Belgium and the rules will be silently bent by unelected bureaucrats.
    Wait for the UN’s Agenda 25 to cut in to reduce the world’s population from seven billion to just one billion.
    Who do you reckon would be their first cab off the rank?

  • rosross

    Just as IVF, an experimental artificial conception, the effects of which will not be accurately known for another century, is now sold like ice-cream, so too will death be sold like a commodity. In neither case is there consideration for the humanity of those involved.

  • lloveday

    One effect of IVF is accurately known now: many married couples who were unable to conceive naturally have loved and wanted children resulting from embryos produced in vitro from the husband’s sperm and wives’ eggs and implanted into the wives’ wombs where they grow naturally until birthed.
    .
    It can be argued, although an IVF clinic staff denied it to me, that such children are more likely than average to be well-formed and healthy as the “best” sperm are chosen and the “best” embryos implanted first – typically up to 10 embryos are produced each cycle, and despite the staff’s denial, I can’t accept that any but the healthiest sperm are selected to fertilise the eggs. Of course the more healthy sperm may win the race to fertilise eggs in unassisted, normal, production, but it’s not certain.

  • ianl

    > “There is a fine line between “Voluntary” and “Involuntary” ”

    Oh dear, same old shibboleths. No rational description for how an individual’s personal decision becomes murder most foul, just an hysterical assumption that it will.

    I have dealt with with my now gone wife’s irreversible destruction of her CNS on a second-by-second, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, week-by-week basis. The best of palliative care did nothing to erase her increasing agony, remove her acute awareness of the horror without hope she was forced to endure, assuage the despicable cruelty of a lethal disease that the law would treat only with morphine nor my guilt that I could not do what she asked of me many times: “Supply nembutal please”

    Most people simply refuse to believe the minute-by-minute detail of this despicable process. It reaches the stage where the dying person cannot even open or close their own eyelids, but they are acutely aware of, conscious of, their condition.

    Not one of the cement-headed comments above even suggests that the authors have experienced what they are so cavalier about. Of course they will not change their minds without that experience (perhaps not even with it) but I have experienced it directly. It takes an ego finely honed in believing contradictory things simultaneously to reply to someone’s hopeless agony with “Nope, you’ll just have to die slowly of thirst and hunger in utter agonising despair”.

    Doubtless I’ll be accused of being “emotional” (a common straw man in this argument), or “CNS disease only afflicts a few” (as if that avoids the reality of those who are afflicted) but the emotion is in the “suffer till you die” mindset – and it is not a worthy emotion.

  • lloveday

    My father chose to leave the family home where he was receiving palliative care, including a morphine pump and a daily visit from a nurse, to die in hospital. He could not take food or fluids by mouth and in consultation with the doctor and his wife, my mother, decided to stop the nasogastric intubation feeding that was prolonging his life. I was present but offered no opinion and took no part in the deliberation other than explaining things to my mother when necessary.
    .
    The morphine pump seemingly kept him pain free – he had his “silly grin” as he lay in bed with family with him at all times, dozing off, waking, looking around to see who was there, grinning, dozing …… Mother and one of my sisters stayed full-time in the room, the rest of us, children, in-laws and grandchildren, spent much of our free time there. But not for long, he died of thirst (maybe helped along by the level of morphine) during his 3rd night in hospital, about 65 hours after ceasing the NG tube feeding.
    .
    My reading suggests that was not an atypical time for a patient in poor physical condition to die through dehydration – a very good mate in seemingly good nick (manual worker, jogger, gym junkie) had a stroke and lay on his back for 4 days in an iron shed in the tropics before being found and the doctor reckoned one more day could have seen him gone and two would have.
    .
    To suggest that all people taking my father’s route “die slowly of thirst and hunger in utter agonising despair” is ignorant nonsense.

  • PT

    Wow Ian. “Cement heads”? Seriously? “Straw man”? “Shibboleths”?

    How about you get off of YOUR moral high horse (it’s not just the anti crowd that do this) and accept that there is a point to what they say, and provide some suggestions as to how to solve these problems.

    For me, the assertion of “dignity” it what’s wrong with the euthanasia lobby. When the general public assert they support euthanasia, they are typically thinking of someone in the final stages of a terminal illness – the “less than 6 months to live” scenario. But “dignity”? Is it “dignified” living in a nursing home? Having Alzheimers or dementia? Hardly dignified. So how easy to “broaden” the scope of the law to include such people. I mean they’re not going to “get better” are they! Not to mention quadriplegics, or paraplegics. How about a pianist who’s lost their right hand? A painter who’s lost their sight?

    All of these people have lost their “dignity”, certainly what made life worth living. I can certainly see the law being expanded to encompass at least some of them. There’s more than enough examples of abuse of the elderly (I am personally aware of some who have been only too happy to pack elderly relatives off to the nursing home and sell their houses given the slightest chance). Pressuring them to think they’re a burden; promote the idea that the elderly should “die with dignity” rather than live on consuming resources. These are (or should be) real concerns. They aren’t “straw men”.

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