Should the Future Party Support Voluntary Euthanasia?

OPINION

I think that it is time that the Future Party revisit the issue of euthanasia. The Future Party's current position on euthanasia is not fully in support of implementation. At the moment, we support the decriminalisation of texts talking about euthanasia and techniques that can be used to accelerate death such as those of Phillip Nitschke.

I have seen in my own family the suffering that can occur in end of life scenarios. I also have had a number of friends recently lose parents and grandparents where end of life options were not available. There are a number of objections that I have previously raised. I believe I have come up with some reasonable solutions to the objections I raised. 

Public health issues

I have also resisted euthanasia because of the risk to preventative public health. Healthcare paranoia is a serious issue that prevents people from receiving healthcare. Some people are scared that indicating organ donation will result in doctors in killing them early to harvest organs. Other people refuse vaccinations both for themselves and their children because they believe vaccines will poison them. Healthcare paranoia is a serious issue, and allowing euthanasia to occur in normal healthcare settings may prevent individuals seeking care they need. If hospital stops being a safe place for some people because of the fear being mistaken for a euthanasia candidate and accidentally being killed, the net utility of euthanasia laws may actually be negative.

To prevent unnecessary healthcare paranoia, I propose that euthanasia should only be carried out in hospices, homes under the authorisation of a relevant authority, and dedicated end of life centres (which can provide services that can accommodate for a comfortable life-ending process).

Familial pressure concerns

I consider familial pressure concerns to be a real issue in euthanasia. I have seen less than noble situations surrounding death and heard of many more. The risk that someone may be pressured into euthanasia for inheritance, to stop the family losing money on treatments that prolong the inevitable or simply because the emotional drain of caring for a dying person can be intense. We should protect those people who are close to death, as they are highly vulnerable individuals. They often only have real personal contact with those in the family who are most affected by extended suffering through to the end of life and sometimes the likely beneficiary of inheritance.

To protect against pressure to attain euthanasia, I suggest that along with the legalistion of euthanasia, that a criminal law should be implemented that make it an offence to encourage someone to attain euthanasia. This law would be similar to existing laws that make it an offence to encourage someone to commit suicide. This law needs to be carefully constructed to allow people to provide information to people who are in end of life situations, but strong enough such that badgering a person into death is an offence with a proportional sentence attached to it.

“Slippery-slope” concerns

I have previously resisted the implementation of voluntary euthanasia legislation because of the potential for slippery slope situations of more categories of people getting access to assisted suicide than the original law intended. We can see this in countries where the law has been implemented, and people who are disfigured but otherwise healthy getting euthanised, children being euthanised and people being euthanised for non-life threatening conditions.

I don’t think that there are any solutions to this problem other than legislative vigilance. That is, making sure that when the legislation is implemented, if the rules are bent or misused, that the law is updated to constrain its application to the intended population.

Feedback

This is an important issue, so I would like to hear your feedback on this issue on our Facebook discussion. This is the beginning of the discussion, and I would like to see what the membership thinks about this issue.