Disability advocates split on assisted dying laws

People with disabilities could be ‘pushed to the front’ of the queue (Pixabay)

The number of Canberrans choosing to end their lives with voluntary euthanasia could grow to 65 a year in the next decade if assisted dying is legalised, an ACT parliamentary inquiry has heard. Source: Canberra Times.

{split there}

That’s according to calculations by former Labor economist Brendan Long, maths he said he is “happy to defend” and based off his own analysis of the growth of similar programs running in parts of the US, Belgium, Holland and Switzerland.

Dr Long, of the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture at Charles Sturt University, shared his insights as an advisor to Victorian Deputy Premier James Merlino, who led an unsuccessful attempt to block euthanasia laws in the state.

Disability groups appearing before the inquiry on Friday were spilt on the issue. The ACT Disability, Aged and Carer Advocacy Service chief executive Fiona May said that, as risky as the legislation could be for those with disabilities, leaving them out altogether was not the solution.

But Lives Worth Living, a national network of leading disability rights advocates, urged the ACT to reject euthanasia for all people with disability as dangerous.

Convenor Craig Wallace said for people with disability “euthanasia ... holds a horror in our memory” as forced programs had been responsible for the murder of thousands in Nazi Germany and spoke to a culture that still saw the suicide and even murder of those with disabilities as a release.

The health system was hostile to disability and diversity, he said, leaving many cut off from the necessary screening and treatment to prevent terminal disease in the first place.

This led to people with disability being pushed to the “front of the queue” for options like assisted dying, even if laws were carefully restricted to terminal illnesses, Mr Wallace said.

Until people with disabilities were on an equal footing with the rest of Australia in terms of access to healthcare, he said euthanasia posed an unacceptable risk.

“Legalising the killing of sick and disabled people in these times is a dark crevasse we should not fall through,” he said.

Meanwhile, in a new video on the Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocese website, Archbishop Christopher Prowse has warned that legalising assisted suicide would be a fundamental mistake and a grave risk.

Archbishop Prowse earlier this month appeared at the ACT end-of-life choices inquiry, were he said assisted dying legislation is “ill-considered and de-humanising”. 


Disability advocates split on assisted dying laws in the ACT (Canberra Times)

End-of-life choices message from Archbishop Christopher Prowse (Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocese)

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