“No one wants to see them suffering – least of all me.”
“I support voluntary euthanasia – but not this bill.”
“I revere the sanctity of life – but not at any cost.”
South Australian Liberal MP and proponent of the Death With Dignity Bill 2016, Duncan McFetridge, has published a rebuttal to the Bill's opponents in South Australian Parliament, also outlining the facts and strong inbuilt safeguards.
In the piece he states that:
As one of the proponents of the voluntary euthanasia (VE) legislation being currently debated by the South Australian Parliament, I have heard all the excuses and all the furphies, as well as some outright lies.
In particular, he targets Government whip Tom Kenyon for his religious comments made last month:
Government whip Tom Kenyon opposes voluntary euthanasia on the grounds that it amounts to “state-sanctioned killing”: nothing could be further from the truth. This voluntary euthanasia bill is about shortening an inevitable and painful death, not life.
Using Mr Kenyon’s own logic, if we do not provide a law enabling a gentle exit for those who have a terminal illness and are suffering at the end of life, it must surely amount to state-sanctioned torture.
Dr McFetridge also clearly outlines the safeguards, penalties and oversights written into this Bill:
The Death with Dignity Bill is the product of intensive consultation within the parliament. It has a range of strong safeguards to protect the vulnerable.
These safeguards include:
- You have to be a mentally competent adult, so it is not possible for a child or someone with mental health issues to make a request for voluntary euthanasia (VE).
- Having a disability cannot be a sole criterion for requesting VE: you must also have a terminal condition.
- Ditto, simply being old does not qualify you to make a request voluntary euthanasia.
Again, the ultimate safeguard is that you must have a terminal condition. And VE is 100% voluntary. Even if you are granted permission to access life-ending medications, there is no compulsion for you to take it. Indeed experience in the United States shows us that one third of those who are given a prescription do not then take the medication. Simply knowing that you can take it provides great peace of mind and a sense of control to people in their dying days.
Other safeguards include that a terminal prognosis must be confirmed by two doctors, one independent of the first. There must also be two independent witnesses to a request for VE. If there is any doubt then the case must be referred to a psychiatrist.
In terms of penalties and oversight:
- There are provisions for very heavy jail terms for coercion or duress.
- Annual reports are to made to Parliament.
- There are reports to the Coroner and a review within five years.
These provisions are all clear, all in plain sight and there’s no need to refer to the Acts Interpretation Act to make sense of them. It is hard to think of any legislation that has greater accountability or scrutiny built in to it – as it should be. This is a very, very good Bill.
You can read Dr McFetridge's full article here.