AUSTRALIA should be looking at ways to care for its aging population rather than considering euthanasia, the pro-life organisation Cherish Life Queensland says.
“We need to put more resources into palliative care,” Cherish Life president Julie Borger said, reacting to a new drive to legalise voluntary euthanasia in Queensland.
The multi-million-dollar estate left by former Brisbane Lord Mayor Clem Jones is to be used to bankroll a campaign to legalise euthanasia similar to the campaign in Victoria which last year led to the passing of an assisted-dying law, which will come into effect next year.
Mr Jones, who was Brisbane Lord Mayor from 1961 to 1975, bequeathed most of his estate to a charitable foundation to be directed to a number of causes, including up to $5 million to help campaign for voluntary euthanasia across the country.
David Muir, of the Clem Jones Trust, said the former Lord Mayor was “driven by compassion”.
“We need it in Queensland as we do in other parts of the country for the very reason that people at end of life are going through terrible suffering,” Mr Muir said.
“What we need is to give right of choice to Queenslanders at end of life between a good death and a bad death.”
Cherish Life Queensland claims the pro-euthanasia lobby has hijacked the phrase “dying with dignity”.
“The misnomer ‘assisted dying’ hides what euthanasia really is – intentional killing by lethal injection administered by doctors, or doctors providing poison for the patient to take,” Cherish Life’s vice-president Alan Baker said.
“Doctors should kill the pain, not the patient. The first duty of the medical profession is to do no harm.
“This is why the AMA (Australian Medical Association) is opposed to the legalisation of euthanasia and instead supports palliative care, which is the true form of assisted dying.
“This focuses on relieving pain and keeping patients comfortable in order to allow a natural and dignified death at their appointed time.
“Good medical practice is all about facilitating natural death with dignity and peace.
“Cherish Life Queensland will be working hard with other pro-life and pro-family groups to stop this culture of death coming to our state.”
Mr Muir claims 80 per cent of Australians want reform to allow voluntary euthanasia.
The Clem Jones group has written to all Queensland MPs urging them to get behind its pro-euthanasia campaign.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said a parliamentary inquiry into end-of-life issues was not on the agenda for the first year of her new government, but she had not ruled out a possible inquiry “down the track”.
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington has opposed legalising assisted dying.
If and when the Government calls for an inquiry, Palliative Care Queensland wants palliative care included in the discussion of end-of-life care and laws.
“Dying is a part of life, it happens to us all,” PCA executive officer Shyla Mills said.
“We know that well-resourced palliative care can improve the quality of life for patients and their families.
“To improve the quality of dying we need more community conversations, education of health professionals and a supported workforce dedicated to palliative care.
“The availability of excellent palliative care must be central to any conversation in the community or Parliament about end-of-life laws.”
Palliative care provides specialist management of symptoms such as pain and shortness of breath, provides psychological and emotional support to patients and families, including children, and helps them deal with all aspects of death and dying such as financial issues.
“Not every person who dies will require specialist palliative care but, for people with complex symptoms, it is essential,” Ms Mills said.
“Every Queenslander who needs palliative care must have access to it, but the current levels of funding are insufficient to guarantee that access.”
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