“Lying always comes before killing”, as Solzhenitsyn observed of the Stalin regime. Under the Labor administration in Queensland, it comes before, during and after, with fresh fibs to be enshrined in law this month.
The Palaszczuk politburo already makes doctors lie on the death certificate of a healthy baby whose violent demise is arranged after 20 weeks of pregnancy: it is not infanticide, not abortion, but “stillbirth”. Now, doctors are being told to lie on the death certificate in cases of state-approved suicide by declaring death to be from natural causes. Silly you, if you think that drinking a poison with the intention of ending your life is old-fashioned suicide. Not so, under Anastasia’s euthanasia Newspeak. Likewise, when you ask a doctor to give you a lethal injection, that is not homicide under this Bill, not even euthanasia, but “assisted dying”.
As someone who has spent many hours over many years at bedsides assisting the dying of beloved patients, without ever seeking to make them dead, I object to that usurping of an honourable phrase as a euphemism for intentional killing. But the brain-sedating effect of euphemasia is essential to help the public go gentle into that good night and to stop MPs raging against the dying of the light of legislative plainspeak.
There’s a whiff of Stalin in the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill’s provisions to crush the conscience of dissenters. Doctors who refuse to collaborate with intentional killing will be compelled to give “name and contact details” of someone who will do the deed, thus collaborating with intentional killing. You don’t have to execute any Kulaks yourself, but you must book their train to Siberia. Labor sees no problem with that. Nor do they have any qualms forcing Church hospitals to let patients be euthanised on their property, spitting on their faith-based ethos of care. And Uncle Joe would enjoy the clause whereby any doctor who tries to talk the patient out of suicide risks seven years in jail.
Lightening up a bit, did you hear the joke about the euthanasia law that wanted to protect the vulnerable from abuse and ensure proper informed consent to their premature death?
Labor’s joke gives all authority over life and death to a junior doctor, just five years out of university, who has never met the patient before. The law does not even require this “coordinating practitioner” to consult the patient’s GP to get insight into possible elder abuse or past depression and dementia. The law does not require this doctor to conduct a formal assessment of mental state or to be trained in the forensic questioning needed to uncover elder abuse: a gut feeling that all seems well will suffice for declaring the patient of sound mind and free of coercion.
But wait, there’s more! This legislative junk-mail promises fully informed consent. Patients will be properly educated in alternatives to a lethal injection – in particular, they will understand what palliative care can offer. Let me assure honourable members of the Queensland Parliament that this is indeed a joke: the junior doctors I have lectured over many years in palliative medicine have little idea about the power of that speciality to ease suffering. Allowing them to certify the “informed consent” of frightened patients is morbid satire. Without specialist palliative and psychiatric input, this Bill is medically negligent.
And legally negligent: it waxes eloquent about protecting the vulnerable from abuse while burying the protections so deep under privacy provisions that no abuse could ever be detected. Paul Santamaria QC warned MPs, “All the statutory ‘protections’ that are incorporated into the Bill are not worth a pinch of salt unless there are realistic opportunities for unlawful conduct of family members, aged-care operators or, heaven forbid, medical practitioners to be detected – and prosecuted. Nothing in this Bill ought encourage diligent parliamentarians to believe that prosecution for unlawful conduct which has caused the death of vulnerable Queenslanders is other than the stuff of dreams.”
Heaven is unlikely to forbid unlawful conduct of medical practitioners in Queensland if overseas precedent is anything to go by.
In Holland, the Dutch government’s own confidential survey shows that, year after year, doctors unlawfully euthanise hundreds of patients without their request or consent. Euthanasia was legalised in Holland in 2002 but the unlawful killings continued apace: the 2007 survey found the rate of patients killed “without explicit request” after legalisation was “not significantly different from those in previous years”. More recent data shows this homicide of lebensunwertes leben by lying Dutch doctors cannot be stopped: in 2010 there were 310 patients put to death without consent and another 431 in 2015.
Perhaps MPs and the public should get real about the corruptibility of doctors and the danger of giving us a power we should never be given. Professors of psychiatry in Brisbane, Frank Varghese and Brian Kelly, warned years ago that euthanasia legislation “fails to take into account the doctor’s unconscious and indeed sometimes conscious wishes for the patient to die and thereby to relieve everyone, including the doctor, of distress”.
Doctor knows best, doctor has all the power, and nobody in Holland, or Queensland, can detect or prosecute the covert killings that will surely come when doctors are the approved bringers of death.
A generation ago, euthanasia’s subversion of the medical profession and law was better understood, and the British House of Lords advised: “None of the arguments we heard were sufficient to weaken society’s prohibition of intentional killing, which is the cornerstone of law and social relationships.”
Today, our progressive lawmakers seem happy to shatter the cornerstone of law, corrupt the medical profession, demoralise the field of palliative care and facilitate an insidious new form of elder abuse – all under cover of the lie that state-approved suicide is not suicide, medical homicide is not homicide, and their Bill’s ‘protections’ are not the stuff of dreams.
The truth is, taboos exist to protect us from our dark side. We violate the taboo against intentional killing at our peril.
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