Voluntary euthanasia legislation has left Western Australia’s religious communities debating doctrine and death. Source: ABC News.
Even after watching his grandfather suffer a slow and painful death, the head of Perth’s Hebrew congregation, Rabbi Daniel Lieberman, remains adamant all life is sacred to the very end.
It is not just the word of God that defines his view, but the Holocaust, which he believes stands as a warning of the slippery slope where legalised euthanasia could morph into state-sanctioned murder.
“If someone is making a decision as to who deserves to live and who doesn’t deserve to live, that ends up in a bad situation,” he said.
“That ends up with concentration camps.”
Rabbi Lieberman’s congregation is one of many WA religious communities now wrestling with the question of voluntary assisted dying, as the state’s Parliament prepares to debate legislation to make it legal.
“Judaism’s stance on euthanasia is very straightforward,” Rabbi Lieberman said.
“We go by the Ten Commandments, one of which is thou shalt not kill. Euthanasia is in violation of that.”
When the WA Government tabled its legislation last week, Imam Kamran Mubashir Tahir from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association not only consulted his Muslim brothers, but also his Christian and Jewish friends.
“It is very subjective,” he said. “Some did say, ‘if it were me, I would not like to see my close relative suffer’."
But, he said, the teachings of Islam were clear. “God almighty says kill not life because God has made it sacred,” he said.
Contrastingly, the Buddhist Council of WA expressed support for the proposed legislation.
Council president Jake Mitra explained that while the Buddhist faith opposed killing and suicide based on its moral code, which consists of five precepts, it supported voluntary assisted dying “in principle”.
The Catholic Church’s official stance is well known.
“One of the Ten Commandments is thou shalt not kill,” Fr Joseph Parkinson, director of the LG Goody Bioethics Centre, said. “This is a bill to allow one Western Australian to kill another.”
The Anglican Church has also opposed the legislation, but the tone used by Perth Archbishop Kay Goldsworthy seemed discernibly softer, referring to it as assisted dying rather than suicide or euthanasia.
“We are a broad church and there will be many views within it, but I believe that in the main we are grappling with what this means. It is another big shift in the seam of things that hold the community together.”