Townsville Bishop Timothy Harris, the bishops’ delegate for euthanasia, has welcomed a ruling that telehealth appointments for euthanasia are illegal as a “significant win for commonsense and decency”. Source: The Catholic Weekly.
Federal laws ban using video, telephone calls or email to counsel, help or incite suicide, and a Federal Court case examined whether euthanasia was in breach of those laws.
Justice Wendy Abraham ruled yesterday that the term “suicide” as used in the Commonwealth Criminal Code applies to the ending of a person’s life under Victoria’s assisted dying laws.
The case was brought by Melbourne doctor and assisted dying advocate Nicholas Carr, who sought clarification on whether euthanasia counted as suicide for the purposes of telehealth appointments.
Dr Carr said he was “devasted” by the court’s decision and will now support independent ACT MP Kate Chaney in her bid to change the federal law through a private member’s bill early next year.
But Bishop Harris welcomed the decision, which clarifies that telehealth cannot be used to procure euthanasia.
“I thought that was an excellent decision and it’s almost as if some common sense and decency has crept into what could only be described as a horrific time in Australia’s history,” Bishop Harris said.
“Medically-assisted suicide is always wrong and an excuse for governments to not have proper conversations about palliative care.
“This ruling is a wake-up call and a reminder that we need to think again about the whole practice of doctor-assisted suicide.”
In a statement, Melbourne Archbishop Peter A Comensoli said the Federal Court’s ruling “underscores that VAD is not a health service but an intentional ending of someone’s life”.
“To deal with such a serious situation by means of a carriage service would be a failure of good medicine,” Archbishop Comensoli said.
“People at the end of their lives are at their most vulnerable; what they deserve is our compassion, care and accompaniment, not euthanasia.”
Court ruling on telehealth euthanasia ‘win for commonsense’ says Bishops’ delegate (By Marilyn Rodrigues, The Catholic Weekly)
Statement from Archbishop Peter A Comensoli on Federal Court ruling on telehealth and VAD (Melbourne Archdiocese)
Landmark VAD court ruling: telehealth illegal (The Australian)