THE Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill gives doctors and nurses “a licence to kill”, Catholic Bishop of Bathurst Michael McKenna says.
The bill will be put to NSW Parliament on Thursday in an effort to provide a legislative framework for terminally ill people to receive assistance to end their lives.
“Certain terminally ill persons may be assisted by their medical practitioners and other nominated persons to administer a substance to themselves,” the bill’s explanatory note states.
The patient must be at least 25 years old and “suffering from a terminal illness” which is “likely to result in the death of the patient within 12 months”.
Bishop McKenna said: “No conditions make euthanasia or assisted suicide morally acceptable”.
He said it would put pressure on medical practitioners, and instead there should be better palliative care options for patients as well as their friends and families.
Bishop McKenna said the public assumed assisted dying was about stopping treatment or turning off life support, but he said it would legalise the administration of a drug to end a life.
“If you give medical professionals this licence, how will you make sure it’s not abused? It’s proved very difficult to keep that in check [overseas],” he said.
“This is stepping on the line to give doctors and nurses essentially a licence to kill.
If you give medical professionals this licence, how will you make sure it’s not abused? It’s proved very difficult to keep that in check [overseas]."
“If we move to pass legislation like this we are certainly giving a message that is contrary to what we are giving in suicide prevention.”
Bathurst Presbyterian Church minister David Whittingham said the goal should always be to support life.
“There’s absolutely no way you can protect people if this was legalised,” he said.
“It’s wrong to assume that what happens after death is better than what’s happening now.”
Anglican Bishop of Bathurst Ian Palmer said he was concerned that if the bill was passed it would send a confusing message to society, particularly to the young and vulnerable.
“Suicide is a tragedy that impacts families and communities so we believe it would be counter-productive to legally endorse any form of suicide when governments and communities are working so hard to persuade others not to take their own lives,” he said. “Human dignity is honoured in living life, not in taking it.”
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