Euthanizing fear?

Ignorance of current end-of-life care in modern Australia fuels fear of death/ end of life.

“First: many think laws for voluntary euthanasia are for burdensome treatments to be stopped, or for life‐support to be switched off, when people are about to die. But these are already best‐practice: good end of life care does not keep people lingering on endlessly.

“Second: thousands of people around the country are working long and hard, right now, to make people comfortable and to help them die well. We call this ‘palliative care’. But in a society so shielded from death, most of us know nothing about it. In the recent Western Australian debate, thirteen palliative care specialists wrote ‘We share many of the goals of those who support euthanasia,’ they wrote, meaning that they agree when patients want to cease pointless treatments, or want to die well at home. These specialists can then control symptoms sometimes by use of ‘deep sedation’ that ‘is both ethical and legal.’

This short briefing touches on:

  • The fear surrounding this discussion of death;
  • Two misunderstandings about end-of-life care;
  • The practice of palliative care;
  • The likely results of a euthanizing culture; and
  • A motion now before the Sydney Diocesan Synod.
  • It also lists 7 excellent links. 

SIBriefing #087, 14/10/2010, Euthanizing fear: why it won’t work.


Euthanizing fear? — 4 Comments

  1. There were lots of online responses to Paul Kelly’s piece (in the Australian, I think it was), saying that, Of COURSE people could tell the difference between Euthanasia and ‘switching off the machine’. However, lots of people I’ve spoken to who are in favour of “euthanasia” will ask incredulously how I could support keeping people alive by prolonged medical treatments. They clearly have NOT seen the distinction between the two!

  2. Agreed. I think this is a benefit of promoting people doing an Advance Directive which leaves instructions re the level of medical intervention a person wants. This conversation clarifies the distinction between euthanasia/assited killing and the degree or extent of medical intervention. I am planning to write a post on Advance Directive but have not had time yet. But basically they are a good idea.

  3. Absolutely! When my Father was dying of cancer, her gave clear instructions to all concerned that people were not to attempt resuscitation, or any other form of life-prolonging intervention. When my mother was dying of brain injuries sustained during a fall, she was not in a position to make those requests, but her whole family agreed that she was not to be resuscitated, should the opportunity arise. It was a FAR cry in my mind from asking the medical practitioners to END their lives.

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