7th April 2008
Some people assume that Physician Assisted Dying (PAD) is incompatible with the right to life. However, it is compatible and here’s why:
- The PAD Bill does not allow involuntary death under any circumstances.
- PAD is available only to mentally-competent sufferers who make their own decisions.
- The PAD Bill does not require, coerce or force anyone to participate or not participate in a PAD death against their will (sufferer, doctor, other health care professional or facility).
- It is important not to confuse a right with either an obligation or with actual behaviour. A right to life continues to exist even for a sufferer who has acquired a lethal drug under the Act. While they may choose to end their life using the drug (actual behaviour), this does not diminish in any way their or anyone else’s right to life. They may in fact never take the drug—either choice is entirely their right. Conversely, the current lack of choice obliges a patient with intolerable suffering who would choose to die, to suffer against their wishes.
Some people say it is only God’s will that should end a life. We firmly believe in an individual’s right to follow their personal beliefs, but not to require the overwhelming majority to act out their lives according to any other individual’s beliefs.
- Independent research shows that four out of five Anglicans believe that PAD should be available. So do three out of four Catholics, as well as a significant majority of Uniting, Presbyterian/Reformed, Baptist, Lutheran, Orthodox, Jewish and Buddhist faiths.
- Many of those of faith have asked the question: “Why would God give me free will if I were denied the right to exercise it in the relief of intolerable suffering?”
- Others have asked “If God saw fit for me to acquire this fatal condition, what right do I have to ‘interfere’ with His will by seeking futile medical treatment and prolonging the condition?”
- Most Christians believe their God to be merciful and compassionate and not vindictive.
- More than 18% of Australians have no religion (2006 census) and do not refer to God.
The availability of PAD does not in any way diminish anyone’s right to act according to their beliefs.
Next bulletin: So it’s consistent with a right to life, but isn’t it promoting a “culture of death”?