Andrew Geddis writes:
First, earlier this month the Victorian Parliament’s Legal and Social Issues Committee tabled an extensive report on on its inquiry into end of life choices. This report proceeded the way that NZ’s Health Committee really should have done – it first examined how the State’s palliative care services are operating and what should be done to better improve this, before then turning to look at the issue of aid in dying. With regards that latter matter, the Committee concluded that:
“Assisted dying should be made available to adults with decision making capacity who are at the end of life and suffering from a serious and incurable condition, which is causing enduring and unbearable suffering that cannot be relieved in a manner they deem tolerable.
Suffering as a result of mental illness only does not satisfy the eligibility criteria.
Assisted dying should be provided in the form of a doctor prescribing a lethal drug which a person may then take themselves, or in the case of a person being physically unable to take the drug themselves, the doctor administering the drug.
The request to access assisted dying must be completely voluntary, properly informed, and satisfy the verbal request, formal written request, repeat verbal request procedure described [in the report].”
There’s a bunch of reasons why we should care what this Committee thinks. First up, it represents the conclusions of a group of MPs from a society that is (like it or not) pretty similar to our own. What is more, the report represents a cross-party near-consensus on the issue. The Committee consisted of three Labor MPs, three Liberal MPs and one representative each from the Sex Party (yes – really!) and the Greens. Of these eight members, only one (from the Liberal Party) dissented from the recommendation. So you can’t just dismiss this report as the ideologically driven predetermined views of [insert whatever side of the political spectrum you disagree with].
It will be interesting to see what conclusions the MPs on the Health Select Committee reach.
So now that Canada has brought in a regime of legalised aid in dying, we’ve got a near perfect comparator for us as a nation to see if the claimed negative consequences of the practice eventuate. Will Canada’s introduction of aid in dying somehow harm the practice of medicine (or, at least, the practice of medicine in end-of-life situations)? Will it lead to elderly/depressed/disabled people being pushed by relatives or money-saving governments to end their lives? Will the suicide rate, especially for young people, trend upwards because of “mixed messages” about the practice? Etc, etc?
I agree Canada will be a good country to study to see what happens. While I support euthanasia in principle I am always ready to be swayed by evidence.
For the same reason I look forward to the results of Oregon and Washington legalising cannabis. Will it increase harm or make no difference?