CATHOLIC filmmaker Kevin Dunn has a clear, passionate message when it comes to euthanasia and assisted suicide.
“I love life. It’s a gift, and we need to protect it, at all costs,” he said.
The Canadian father-of-six has spent much of the past five years investigating the impacts and expansion of euthanasia and assisted-suicide laws throughout the world.
Now he is in Australia promoting his latest film Fatal Flaws: Legalising Assisted Death, in which he journeys through Europe and North America to ask one of the most fundamental philosophical questions of our time – should we be giving doctors the right in law to end the life of others by euthanasia or assisted suicide?
With assisted suicide already legal in Victoria, and with Western Australia and Queensland considering it, Mr Dunn uses powerful testimonies and expert opinion from both sides of the issue to uncover how these highly disputed laws affect society over time.
Euthanasia bad news for vulnerable
“I love telling stories, and the people I’ve met galvanised me to realise this (euthanasia) is bad news for the vulnerable,” he said.
Mr Dunn is a familiar face in Canada having worked for three decades as a broadcaster, producer, television host, guest speaker and performer.
As presenter and interviewer in Fatal Flaws, Mr Dunn uncovers fear, loneliness and depression amongst those most affected by ‘assisted dying’ laws; the elderly and marginalised, those who live with disabilities and patients with mental illness.
“A culture of abandonment has subtly emerged,” he said.
“The solution, however, is surprisingly within our reach – if we dare to engage.”
Mr Dunn visited the Netherlands, among the most advanced euthanasia countries, where five per cent of deaths are now attributed to euthanasia, and a lethal injection is now simply one of life’s many choices.
He found an elderly woman who was pressured to accept euthanasia.
But her daughter Helen stepped in and sought a second medical opinion that revealed her mother was not even in danger of dying of natural causes at that time.
The mother passed away peacefully a year later, among family and friends.
The most arresting case was Aurelia, a Dutch girl whose psychiatric problems included a fixation on dying.
Mr Dunn was among those who tried to help her, however she was euthanised on January 26, 2018.
Now under consideration in the Netherlands are laws that would allow healthy people who feel their life is complete to die with the help of a physician.
In 2019, this is one of the “fatal flaws” that Mr Dunn talks about as he crosses continents to share his film and talk with audiences.
Becoming prophets of hope
“I call it my ‘Prophets of Hope’ tour because I honestly believe that is where the solution lies,” he said.
“Each of us has to become a prophet of hope – a reason for someone’s tomorrow – especially in light of laws that tell others to give up on hope.
“For some reason, despite dire warnings from jurisdictions experienced with the cultural effects of euthanasia and assisted suicide, countries and states continue to enact laws that allow doctors to provide lethal injections or drugs to citizens who ‘qualify’ under certain criteria.
“What was once deemed unthinkable is now an option — and in many ways has become a subtle obligation —as fear of future suffering, losing autonomy or becoming a burden are among the top reasons why people request it.”
Mr Dunn said many euthanasia supporters were well meaning, but their support was based on “false compassion” – a symptom of post-modern societies.
“This false compassion takes hold when we should be giving people hope for the future,” he said.
Sharing with audiences, Mr Dunn said he was often asked what practical thing could like-minded people do to stem the tide against euthanasia.
“We must step up to inform our politicians and medical professionals of what these laws imply,” he said. “Sharing these films is a great start.
“However we must do more. We must challenge ourselves daily to become a prophet of hope – the reason for someone’s tomorrow.
“It could be as simple as visiting elderly parents, volunteering to drive someone to the hospital or playing Scrabble for an hour with a senior in a nursing home.
“These are ways we inspire hope in others so they don’t reach for these laws.”
Mr Dunn’s pro-life passion can be traced to growing up in a big, life-affirming Catholic family.
He lives outside Toronto and attends the “vibrant’ parish of St Ann’s.
“I have great support from a loving family,” he said.
From an early age, Mr Dunn said his love of performing as a singer-guitarist allowed him to see how music could bring joy and bring people together, and that was especially the case during his early days performing for people with disabilities – watching them respond to music.
“And yes, that would play a very strong part in my appreciation for those with special needs – and what these laws ’say’ to them,” he said.
“I want to fight for them now. I want to fight for these people because they deserve it.
“Who is at the front of the line as these euthanasia and assisted suicide laws are being passed around the world? It’s the disability rights movement – it’s them and the Catholic Church.
“They know what these laws say to people with disabilities.
“For all it’s failings, the Catholic Church has always stood up for the little guy, they’ve always stood up for the vulnerable, and that’s what we’re called to do.”
Mr Dunn’s tour has taken him to Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Hobart.
He will be in Perth from September 3-5.
Details at www.kevindunn.info/new-page-1