Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Victoria's Euthanasia Bill Is Not What it Was Promised to Be

Fabian Stahle has issued a thoughtful and detailed report regarding Oregon's six months of live criteria, which is determined in practice to include people with years to live, and not necessarily on a voluntary basis.

The material below is on page 4 of his report, regarding Victoria, which recently enacted a similar standard. I urge readers to also consider his entire report at this link.

Margaret Dore, Esq, MBA, President
Choice is an Illusion

It seems to be the same with the assisted death law recently passed in the state of Victoria, Australia, which used the Oregon model. Debates that preceded the decision were said to be extensive and emotionally charged. Hesitant parliamentarians were convinced by a tightening of the safeguards, resulting in what has been described as the strictest law for physician-assisted suicide in the world. To qualify under this supposedly strict law:

"the person must be diagnosed with a disease that is incurable, progressive, and expected to lead to death within six months and which causes a suffering to the person who cannot be relieved in a manner that the person considers to be acceptable,"
The language gives a convincing impression of a patient incurably sick beyond all hope, but since the key term "incurable" is not defined anywhere, this "strict" law is wide open to the same novel interpretation as the Oregon law. . . .

In summary, assisted death laws a la Oregon give the impression of being responsible and restrictively designed; but it is a deception. Since "incurable" is not defined but given an open interpretation, these laws apply to a wider population of patients. Those who would survive with treatment can convert themselves to a terminal state by refraining from treatment for any reason whatsoever. Alternatively, they may be forced into a terminal state by being denied treatment through lack of access to state-of the-art treatment, or denial of insurance coverage. By these pathways, patients could end up with two doctors deciding that they have a maximum of six months left to live thus declaring them legally eligible for assisted death. The original vision that the law should only apply to "untreatable" illness with six months to live is lost.

We need to reconsider the significantly expanded dimensions as to who qualifies for assisted suicide under the Oregon model. The scenario being presented in the polls and in propaganda by advocates is deceptive. Proponents want to sell the Oregon model along with the assurance that medically-assisted suicide only applies to dying patients where all hope is lost. But it is completely misleading. Surely vulnerable people in Sweden and all over the world deserve better than laws with such inherent dangers hiding beneath the surface.