From the very beginning, God gave us choice.
Life is full of choices – every single day. You have chosen to be here today and for that I thank you and honour you – because today, we rally together for life. Together, today, we choose life – for ourselves and for the ones we love, and for every single person formed in the image of God.
An ancient scribe in the book of Deuteronomy wrote – “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants”. Choose life.
A few weeks ago my sister Karen whom I loved very much, died. She died in Brisbane’s St Vincent’s Hospital after a 15-month battle with cancer. She is the second sister I have lost from cancer.
I have experienced walking that journey to death with two people who I love dearly.
And there was pain and joy in the journey.
And today we gather to celebrate our choice for life at both ends of life. The bookends of this present life are conception and death.
There is pain and joy in childbirth and there is pain and joy in death. This is a reality of life. Some would say she had no choice as to whether she would live or die. But that’s not true – she lived every moment that she had to her. She chose to live. She planned, she loved.
Eight months into my sister Karen’s battle with cancer, I became aware of an e-petition on the Queensland Government website calling for Queensland to introduce legalised assisted suicide or euthanasia.
The reason given for calling for this new legislation was a proposal that those who were unable to care for themselves would rather be assisted to commit suicide than lose their independence, their dignity and their quality of life.
Everything within me railed against the suggestion that any Queenslander, finding themselves in the position that my sister was in, would be encouraged to believe that their life was no longer worth anything – that they would be better off put down – that somehow because they were ill, they no longer had any dignity.
I commenced a parallel e-petition of my own that ran alongside the euthanasia petition.
My e-petition requested the State Government to improve palliative care rather than legalise euthanasia.
I’m pleased to tell you today that the e-petition calling for legalised suicide received 605 signatures. My e-petition calling for life received 1034 signatures.
During this time I spoke at the Palliative Care Queensland conference, alongside Philip Nietschke. This man who peddles death, debated with me on the issue of life and death.
Amongst other things, he spoke of his belief that troubled teens should have access to physician-assisted suicide.
He also expressed his belief that anyone over a certain age – and I have to tell you I’m close to the age he mentioned – should have easy, on-hand access, in their own home, to medication that will end their life.
I was shocked and angry. My sister was troubled at times. Which one of us isn’t?
My sister would say to me at times that she didn’t want to be a burden.
I was able to reassure her that she was loved and valued and we encouraged each other to “choose life” every day. And through it all, the overwhelming emotion that I experienced was the great privilege I had in caring for them.
Euthanasia devalues human life and places vulnerable people at risk of feeling obliged to request an early death – the depressed, elderly, sick, dying or disabled, and those who believe they are a burden to others.
Euthanasia is a failure. It is not a painkiller.
It is a betrayal of our most vulnerable. It is a death sentence for the crime of being needy.
I don’t want my message to you to be depressing. But it’s important we speak truth.
This past fortnight had the news that Belgium’s parliament has extended their euthanasia laws to cover children of all ages.
Already in Holland children can be euthanased from 12 years old. In doing so they have promoted an unacceptable belief that a child’s life can be unworthy of life.
This is a betrayal against some of the most vulnerable children in Belgium.
How can we possibly expect children of all ages – very young children – to have a capacity of discernment as to whether they should end their life? It has to be concerning to any sensible person to think that a child who is unwell would be expected to make a decision that they were not worthy of life.
I have read this week of people drawing comparisons to Nazi Germany when there was mass euthansia for the disabled.
But we don’t have to look overseas to find the betrayal of our most vulnerable.
As a society, we are in danger of losing sight of the value of every human being. We are in danger of living in a climate of death rather than life.
I don’t think this was ever so stark to me than on November 4 last year when Dan Savage was a panellist on the ABC Q&A program.
He suggested abortion should be mandatory for about 30 years to achieve population control. And there was no outcry from the audience. On the same program there was a Christian academic who was laughed and jeered at because of his pro-life, pro-family positions.
We have voices here today calling out to us to allow the murder of babies, in Belgium we are now killing children because they are unwell or disabled.
Here in Queensland last year we had a petition to allow us to kill the aged and the ill.
In Queensland we have statistics of how many babies are left to die because of botched abortions in hospitals.
Every human being is valuable. How dare we decide who can be declared not worth keeping alive.
I feel like I am speaking today on behalf of loved ones who are alive and those who have already passed away.
Our voices need to stay strong and insistent.
I am proud to share the platform today with these pro-life advocates and I salute them. Because I, along with them, want to choose life.
Wendy Francis is a lobbyist on social issues and is the Queensland state director of the Australian Christian Lobby.