Euthanasia or assisted suicide is not the right solution for terminally ill people, but any doctor who leaves someone in pain should be “put in jail”, according to ethicist Margaret Somerville AM, The Southern Cross reports.
“I would make it a criminal offence,” the Adelaide-born defender of human life and dignity said last week, explaining there were many options for pain relief for terminally ill people through “good, easily accessible palliative care”.
In Adelaide as the guest speaker at a public lecture presented by the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, Professor Somerville used the forum to outline the cases for and against legalising euthanasia, and to clear up some of the misconceptions.
“The pro-euthanasia advocates are intentionally confusing euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide with interventions that are not euthanasia or assisted suicide, and then arguing that all should be acceptable and legal,” she said.
“Turning off a respirator, a life support system, refusal of treatment are not euthanasia or assisted suicide because the person dies a natural death from their underlying illness. Everyone has the legal right to say they don’t want treatment.
“Fully adequate pain management – even if there is a risk that it could shorten your life – provided it is necessary to relieve the pain, is not euthanasia.
“Pro euthanasia advocates argue that to allow assisted suicide or lethal injections we are not making any major change, all we are doing is extending what we have already agreed to … it is just another incremental step on the path we have already taken.
“But legalising euthanasia would be a seismic shift in our most important shared values, especially that of respect for life. It is a revolution, not an evolution, as pro-euthanasia advocates argue."
Imprison doctors who leave patients in pain: international ethicist (The Southern Cross)