The detail is where the Tasmanian Devil is in the Assisted Dying bill

By David Foletta

Editor’s note. Tasmania is a state in Australia as are Victoria and Queensland.

The End-Of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020 (Tasmanian Bill) which is currently before the Parliament of Tasmania is another piece of assisted dying legislation in Australia which is unnecessary, dangerous, puts ideology before safety and erroneously labels euthanasia as assisted dying. The Tasmanian Bill is a private members bill sponsored by Mr Michael Gaffney. 

Under the Tasmanian Bill “assisted dying” has the following definition “voluntary assisted dying [VAD]  means the administration to a person, or the self-administration by a person, of a VAD substance under this Act” The words “the administration to a person” are clearly euthanasia. 

This presentation of “euthanasia” as “assisted dying” which carries the dual problem of allowing another person to kill another person, and, by virtue of that handing over of power, allows a potential abuser to more easily mask their actions is a departure (read, slippery slope) from the Oregon model that we have seen in Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland. (Queensland is still at majority report acceptance stage.) 

The Tasmanian Bill and assisted dying generally in Australia is being legitimized by three one sided majority reports from Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland. Each of these three majority reports failed to make any reference to, or try to disprove, the Parliament of Tasmania’s own 1998 inquiry into end of life choices final report which stated: 

“5.29 The Committee found that the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia would pose a serious threat to the more vulnerable members of society and that the obligation of the state to protect all its members equally outweighs the individual’s freedom to choose voluntary euthanasia.” 

The Tasmanian Parliament must consider evidence in a way that is more detailed than mere empirical, and see that any right to die legislation has negative consequences for a whole community, not only people who are actually using the legislation. It must also find reasons why the above recommendation is no longer correct. Assisted dying and euthanasia are inherently dangerous. 

No amount of alleged “popularity,” “change in values” or “distress” can cause a dangerous action to be made not dangerous, however. [T]hese are what “progressive” decisions are being based on. 

David Foletta is an attorney, in New South Wales, Australia. 

Editor’s note. This appeared on the blog of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and is reposted with permission.