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Archbishop Christopher Prowse (Catholic Voice)

Canberra-Goulburn Archbishop Christopher Prowse has told a public hearing into the ACT’s proposed voluntary euthanasia laws that the bill had a “narrow understanding” of conscientious objection. Source: Canberra Times.

The proposed legislation is being examined in public hearings this week, with four days of hearings set to take place, beginning yesterday.

The ACT’s bill says health professionals and providers do not need to provide voluntary assisted dying services if they are against it, but they are not allowed to hinder access to voluntary assisted dying and need to refer them elsewhere.

A facility could face a fine of up to $81,000 in the most extreme circumstance.

Archbishop Prowse said the ACT bill “does seem to say certain institutions because of their ethos may not agree with this but then, on the other hand, there’s the obligation to defer or refer the person to other people that may be more sympathetic to accessing that”.

“Even that to our Catholic point-of-view is not acceptable,” Archbishop Prowse said.

“We’ve talked about formal and informal or direct or indirect cooperation but we describe this as highly mistaken or even using the word “evil”, which is a word that we would move towards in regards to euthanasia.

“So for a Catholic institution to direct or participate or in any shape or form cooperate to us is unacceptable.”

At yesterday’s hearing, a disability support service and advocacy group expressed fears that the bill does not meaningfully exclude disability.

Advocacy for Inclusion believes the bill widens the eligibility for voluntary assisted dying beyond other Australian jurisdictions as it does not include an expected time frame for a death. In all other states a person must have six to 12 months to live to be eligible.

Advocacy for Inclusion head of policy Craig Wallace said while the proposed legislation excluded disability as a reason for voluntary assisted dying, it did not go far enough and the removal of a requirement for a time frame to death exacerbated this.


Fears ACT’s VAD bill does not meaningfully exclude disability (By Lucy Bladen, Canberra Times)