Regardless of the numerous safeguards attached to any voluntary euthanasia legislation they will inevitably be inadequate. No law which provides for an individual to end their life can codify for all circumstances in a particular case and therefore such legislation is fraught with risk. Further to this, once you go down the path of voluntary euthanasia, there is no way back. There will be unforseen outcomes and ultimately a change in the way we view death and dying.
International evidence suggests that voluntary euthanasia legislation is failing to protect the most vulnerable people in society.
The law dictates that government must protect all individuals and govern in the interests of all Australians. I have always believed in this principle and this principle continues to regulate my public life. Consequently, we must do everything possible to protect the elderly, the disabled and mentally ill at all costs. The elderly and mentally ill will surely become more vulnerable to any voluntary euthanasia laws.
As the protector of the sanctity of life government has an obligation to educate people regarding end-of-life care and end-of-life directives. People must have discussions with their family members, medical professionals and carers about their end-of-life care and how they want to die.
People have the option of refusing treatment through end-of-life directives. People have the choice to state in advance how they wish to be treated when they are no longer capable, as a consequence of physical or cognitive incapacity, of making such health care decisions in a particular circumstance.
Euthanasia is a very complex issue.
It is complicated by numerous interpretations of what is meant by euthanasia, confusing and inconsistent laws, Australia’s Constitution, and the different relationships between states and territories and the Commonwealth.
It is also complicated by the need for appropriate palliative services to support dying people and their families in their homes, in hospices and even in hospitals; and strongly held beliefs and values towards euthanasia.
To me the core of the issue surrounds my belief that life is sacred and we should not be actively aiming to end any life.
You can read more about my views on this topic here.