The Death With Dignity Bill: still highly dangerous
Forget claims of “many safeguards”! The allegedly “new improved” version of Steph Key’s SA Voluntary Euthanasia Bill, introduced by Dr Duncan McFetridge on 20 October with the euphemistic title “Death With Dignity”, retains the original bill’s most dangerous elements, says FamilyVoice research officer Ros Phillips.
“It would authorise the unsupervised suicide of a person with a terminal illness that would end their life years down the track, if the person claimed he or she was suffering intolerably and refused any treatment,” she said.
Clause 9(4)(d) says “the question of whether a person's suffering is intolerable—
(i) is to be determined subjectively and need not meet an objective standard; and
(ii) cannot be challenged or questioned in any proceedings seeking to prevent or delay the administration of voluntary euthanasia to the person.”
Ros Phillips said the serious concerns of the life insurance industry remain. “Clause 21 of the bill would require doctors to lie on a euthanased patient’s death certificate – to say that the death was caused, not by assisted suicide, but the patient’s physical illness,” she said. “This clause, along with clause 30, would enable a person to take out or increase his or her life insurance, pay a limited number of premiums, then use assisted suicide with the intention of enriching his or her heirs.
“Disabled people strongly oppose this legislation, for good reason,” she said. “Their condition could be considered ‘terminal’. This bill could encourage doctors to pressure them to prematurely end their lives rather than seek to help them cope.”
Ros Phillips said the bill, if passed, would send a clear message to young as well as old people that suicide is a valid solution to life’s problems. “Its impact on community morale could ultimately be very harmful,” she said. “Politicians should focus on improving the lives of their constituents, not ending them.”
A second reading vote on the McFetridge bill could occur as soon as 3 November.
- Government and society
- Human life and dignity