MEDIA RELEASE: Anglican Church’s intent to coerce over assisted dying 'unethical and cruel'
An Anglican Church directive to aged care homes to actively dissuade residents from seeking voluntary assisted dying is coercion and should be condemned.
Go Gentle Australia is deeply concerned about the NSW Anglican Church’s advice to its aged care homes to discourage residents “in deed and word” from using voluntary assisted dying.
The advice is part of what the Church describes as a "minimum compliance" strategy when NSW's voluntary assisted dying laws take effect on 28 November.
“The advice is a clear statement of intent to obstruct and interfere with an individual’s end of life choice,” Go Gentle Australia’s CEO Dr Linda Swan said.
To harass or coerce a dying person out of a legal, compassionate medical choice simply because you do not agree with it is unethical and cruel.
“Individuals and institutions have a right not to participate in VAD and we respect that right. However, there is an obvious difference between conscientious objection and conscientious obstruction.
“Aged care residential facilities are legally recognised as people’s homes. Institutions should not be able to influence or control the fundamental decisions people make in the privacy of their own home simply because those who run the institution disagree with their choices.”
Dr Swan said the Anglican statement – and similar directives from the Catholic Church – raised questions about protections for vulnerable people who experience pressure and harassment, and what recourse they have to lodge complaints.
“While the public can vote with its feet on this issue, terminally ill people and the elderly do not always have a choice about where they can access health and aged care.
“We are putting the Anglican Church and other faith-based health and aged-care institutions in NSW on notice that they will be watched closely. We encourage anyone who feels they are being harassed or coerced about their VAD choice to come forward.
“We will ensure any harassment receives the full glare of publicity.”
Have you, or someone you know, experienced pressure or harassment because of a VAD choice? Submit your confidential story via the Go Gentle website
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