EUTHANASIA and assisted suicide are national issues being played out state-by-state, according to Broken Bay Bishop Peter Comensoli.
Bishop Comensoli has applauded the narrow defeat of a voluntary assisted dying bill in New South Wales during a late-night sitting of parliament on November 18, but warned of the prospect of legislation in other states. He made the comment before Victorian parliamentarians were also due to vote on an assisted suicide bill.
“The bill has been defeated in NSW, but the issue has not gone away,” he said. “As debate on assisted suicide continues in the Victorian Parliament, I hope that they will be attentive to the decision of their NSW counterparts.”
There is no major push for euthanasia legislation in Queensland, although Labor did support the position at its 2017 state conference.
Bishop Comensoli thanked doctors and nurses for their voice in informing parliamentarians in New South Wales on “the inherent risks legalising assisted suicide poses”.
“While all of us are rightfully moved by personal stories of pain and suffering too often experienced by our beloved at the end of their lives, none of us should think that a deliberate act of killing them is a genuinely human thing to do,” he said.
“The trauma of pain and suffering that might emerge in people as they are dying, cannot be overcome by eliminating them.
“May our better impulse always be towards compassionate care and sacrificial accompaniment of those who are dying.”
Former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating stepped up his attack on Victorian Labor for supporting an assisted suicide bill, describing it as “defeatism of those who think the struggle at the end of life is a struggle in vain”.
Buoyed by the narrow defeat of assisted dying legislation in the New South Wales Parliament, Mr Keating said it was irresponsible for Victoria to be offering solutions to the ill, born of the “pessimism of suicide”.
“By a whisker, the NSW upper house has preserved the country’s ethical clarity,” he said in a statement.
“The (Legislative) Council didn’t cave in to the defeatism of those who think the struggle at the end of life is a struggle in vain.
“The state should be giving a lead on the optimism of life not the pessimism of suicide.
“We have so many young Australians suiciding these days there should be no lesson for them from state parliaments.
“What we need is kindness, compassion and palliative care.”
Pope Francis reiterated the Catholic Church’s stance on euthanasia at a meeting with doctors at the Vatican on November 16, The Catholic Herald reported.
The Pope addressed questions related to using medical interventions for end-of-life care that may not “serve the integral good of the person”.
He said withdrawing or withholding excessive or unnecessary treatment was “completely different from euthanasia, which is always wrong, in that the intent of euthanasia is to end life and cause death”.