“Odds-on, Victoria will make history as the first state in the nation to legalise euthanasia.” This was the ominous beginning to an analysis article in The Age recently. The article commented that half of Premier Daniel Andrews’ cabinet have publicly stated that they are in favour of the law changing, with another quarter reportedly privately in favour of changing the law.
Opposition leader Matthew Guy has said that members of the Liberal Party will be given a conscience vote on the matter, and that he would personally vote against any legislation presented.
Health minister Jill Hennessy, personally an advocate for the legalised killing, has said she expects the government to make a decision on whether to pursue the legislation by the end of the year, and has advised those in favour of euthanasia to tread carefully so that the change will be accepted. Instead of opening the floodgates all at once, the suggestion is to “get the best result [they] can.”
Another campaign for legalised killing is currently occurring in South Australia. On 20 October, euthanasia legislation is set to be introduced to parliament. The pro-euthanasia campaign in that state has called itself “Go Gentle Australia.”
This “softly, softly” approach is dangerous. It assures people that euthanasia laws will only apply to a limited number of people in a limited number of circumstances, and it rejects any suggestion that it could expand as a ‘slippery slope’ argument and a ‘scare tactic.’
But the “let’s open the door just a little” approach is the way these things usually proceed.
We have evidence of this from Belgium. What began in 2002 as a law for adults was in 2014 changed to include children. It was reported last month that a child had been put to death under these laws. The age of the child was not released.
The Guardian reported that in the ten years between 2003 and 2013, the number of patients being killed increased by 800%.
We keep being told that there is no ‘slippery slope’ in The Netherlands, but let’s take a look at the statistics.
The Statistics Netherlandssite shows us that in 2010, there were 310 deaths by medical life decision in which there was no explicit request for death.
The next statistics will not be available until 2017, but I cannot imagine this has reduced.
We need to be wary of proposals which open the door a small way and promise that nothing bad will happen. We need to resist the temptation to respond to “gentle” political campaigns with a “gentle” reaction. We need to remember that this campaign, no matter how much it describes itself as “gentle,” is actually about the state-sanctioned killing of one person by another. We need to respond with great strength. We need to be vocal in our defence of human life, and our declaration that, despite the best efforts of euthanasia advocates to convince us otherwise, the dignity of the human person is not lost, diminished or undermined by illness. It is inviolable.
Monica Doumit, catholicTalk contributor