Broadcast on 2CH, Sunday 27 Jan 2013.
Support for voluntary euthanasia often stems from a misunderstanding of exactly what euthanasia is. Many people think that present laws allow patients to be kept alive indefinitely by medical intervention and that suffering can be artificially prolonged. But turning off a life support system is not euthanasia; nor is refusing medication.
On the other hand, legalising euthanasia would enable one citizen to directly and intentionally cause the death of another citizen, or be involved in the process of causing that death.
Euthanasia and assisted suicide also pose a threat to the equality of persons, by redefining the value of the lives of some people as “not worth living.” Older Australians are not a problem to be rid of, but a generation to be honoured. Legalised euthanasia weakens patient autonomy and reduces their choice about care and symptom management.
Despite the best of intentions, legalised euthanasia will always be a grave error.
I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.