The subject of euthanasia has been a cause of great distress for many Australians. And, tonight a conversation will be held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church to look at the future of palliative care and “dying with dignity”.
The question to be addressed on the night is, “Good doctors help patients to die in comfort and with dignity. No reasonable person should ask doctors to help their patients commit suicide”.
The discussion is quite timely, as a recent session on advance care planning at Griffith City Library looked at palliative care and patients’ wishes.
And, after the passing of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017 in Victoria last year – which will see euthanasia legal from 2019 – the conversation on assisted dying has been at the forefront for many who believe such an act will play as precedent and mean other states following suit.
As such, a number of people are advocating to keep assisted dying from being made legal in NSW.
A pro-life movement in Griffith known as ‘I Choose Life… from Womb to Tomb’ is therefore inviting the community to attend their symposium on assisted dying.
One of the group’s spokespersons Anna Rossetto said it is part of the recent “conversation to make people more aware”.
“End of life planning is something that comes to us, and sometimes we don’t know what to decide,” Mrs Rossetto.
She said advance care is something that needs to be discussed with families and patients particularly, as she says, “some may say ‘yes’ to a doctor without realising what they are saying ‘yes’ to”.
“The choice to end someone’s life is different to helping them die with dignity, pain free – it’s the intention behind.”
Mrs Rossetto said euthanasia is against the morals and ethics of the Catholic Church, and she is concerned people and churches are “not being vocal enough” about their stance on the subject.
“The loudest voices are from the minorities,” Mrs Rossetto said.
Mrs Rossetto believes those who are against assisted dying are afraid or ashamed to be more vocal about the issue.
Director of the Plunkett Centre for Ethics Doctor Bernadette Tobin PhD will be a guest presenter on the issue, who will discuss “dying with dignity” and the ethical dilemma of euthanasia.
Mrs Rossetto said she would like to take advantage of the opportunity and pose questions to Dr Tobin about some of the concerns she has, for example what can be done for those incapacitated to a degree where they cannot convey their pain to a doctor or to family.
“If you're on life support, is that life?”
She also wants to know whether a patient’s wish not to be resuscitated also falls into the category of euthanasia.
The Australian Medical Association position statement on euthanasia and physician assisted suicide, while currently under review, states:
“If a doctor acts in accordance with good medical practice, the following forms of management at the end of life do not constitute euthanasia or physician assisted suicide: not initiating life-prolonging measures; not continuing life-prolonging measures; or the administration of treatment or other action intended to relieve symptoms which may have a secondary consequence of hastening death.”
This important moral issue will be presented at Sacred Heart Catholic Church Parish Hall on Thursday August 9 at 7pm, and will be followed by a Q&A session.
Refreshments will be available at the event.