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ChrisWianspeakouWaginsWasiWedsuicde Russell Powell Archbishop Kanishka Raffel has urged Christians to speak up dying would turn ‘being a burden’ into something chosen, rather


November 2021

than something suffered.” Bishop Stead says with a parliamentary inquiry on the proposed laws now taking online submissions from the public, Christians should voice their opposition. “The use of opinion polls showing high support for VAD are misleading, because they have asked people who have little awareness of the great advances in palliative care in the past two decades. VAD is premised on ‘intolerable suffering’, but for those who have access to state-of-the-art palliative care, almost no-one needs to endure intolerable suffering. “Of course, our fundamental objection will be that it is God who determines the beginning and end of life, and it is never appropriate for the state to usurp God’s role.” SC

There are two ways that you can make a submission to the parliamentary inquiry into the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021. Detailed written submissions can be lodged through the online form at vadsubmission, or you can make a short comment (up to 300 words) in an online survey at You have until November 22 to make your voice heard. These submissions should be in your own words. To read more about arguments against euthanasia, see here.

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against the assisted suicide bill, which he calls “a momentous shift in medical practice and community expectation” The bill, introduced into the NSW Parliament in October, uses the terminology of “voluntary assisted dying” but the Archbishop says it goes beyond the physician-assisted suicide it would legalise. “It marks the final abandonment of one of the cornerstones of Western civilisation: the sanctity of life,” the Archbishop says. “Advocates of Voluntary Assisted Dying – a deeply misleading cluster of words – have emphasised not the sanctity of life, but quality of life as subjectively experienced, and the primacy of autonomous choice.” The Archbishop, senior bishops and Christian medical groups have pointed out several ways the bill would not provide extra choice, as proponents argue, but would have a flow-on effect to all those battling terminal illness. “Experience overseas demonstrates that what begins as something only for the terminally ill experiencing unendurable suffering becomes something for those whose life has become unbearable,” says the Bishop of South Sydney, Michael Stead. “Once physicianassisted suicide becomes normal – even noble – then the pressure is on those who choose a natural death. “VAD is, in fact, taking away choices. In the long run, VAD will diminish the options for palliative care for everyone, as governments have an excuse to continue to under-fund palliative care. Effective palliative care may become a ‘choice’ only [for] those in capital cities or with private health insurance.” In media coverage of the debate, Sydney Anglican Louise Hungerford told the story of her husband Bernie and his 17-year fight with motor neurone disease, a crippling affliction as difficult as any quoted by pro-euthanasia advocates. Although her husband would have qualified for the proposed assisted dying laws well before his death, she says the extra time he spent with his family were “good years”. “He wanted to promote life, not to cut it short,” Mrs Hungerford said, adding that voluntary assisted dying “would not have been our philosophy because we knew that God was in control of everything”. Archbishop Raffel also spoke of the pressure that would be placed on the terminally ill. “Anyone who has spent years in caring professions, including religious workers like me, have heard on countless occasions vulnerable people express the selfless sentiment, ‘I don’t want to be a burden’,” he says. “It has also been my privilege, time and again, to hear family and other loved ones calmly, quietly and kindly assure such people that it is no burden to care for them. “But if ‘voluntary assisted dying’ were legalised and became part of the normal cultural fabric of dying, then such familial reassurances would have to compete with the patient’s awareness of an alternative route that might be taken. The normalisation of voluntary assisted

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