Voluntary Assisted Dying

The NSW parliament looks likely to enact assisted dying legislation today. During the week I heard an interview with Andrew Denton, who spoke in favour of the legislation. I found the interview, and the position of Andrew Denton disingenuous – devious and misleading.

His portrayal of the opposite position was unfair. He suggested that anti-euthanasia people lacked compassion, were obstructionists, and the reason that he cited that they might be against assisted dying was because they listened to their faith. By contrast, the pro-euthanasia position he suggested was logical, reasonable, compassionate, and dignified.

At one point Denton did name up one of the objections. Faith-based (particularly Catholic) aged care facilities were seeking an amendment to prevent assisted dying from taking place on their premises. Seems fair? Not to Denton. He said no one would be forced to act against their conscience and support another person dying. Denton did not explain how euthanasia could take place in a Catholic nursing home in a way that had no impact on anyone who worked in that village.

Denton’s interview was a classic case of intolerance. He does not understand or respect the view of others. The debate should have been framed as a values clash. I can understand that if Denton believes that individuals have the right to choose, and that suffering is pointless and to be avoided, for him assisted dying is compassionate. I have even experienced watching relatives of myself suffering in the last weeks of their life, and thought assisted dying might be an option.

Denton fails to appreciate that I have different values. That life is not ours to take. That when you create a forum where humans get to decide who dies and when, you force families to an impossible conversation, where some will likely disagree and be hurt. That it is often us who feel uncomfortable about watching our loved ones suffer, more so than them. That the process of caring for dying loved ones can unite families and allow them to grieve and process together.

My position is rational, compassionate, and dignified given my values.


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