The Christian Medical and Dental Fellowship of Australia (CMDFA) Ethics Committee oppose moves to legalise euthanasia in Australian Parliaments.
They have completed a more detailed paper which they have kindly sent me but which is not yet on their website. I will link to it when posted or ask approval to put it up on our Tasmanian Anglican website. In the meantime here is their 1 October media release:
Executive Officer of CMDFA, Dr Michael Burke, stated ‘We affirm the dignity of all human beings and are committed to the relief of suffering and the provision of compassionate care in partnership with our patients and their loved ones. We firmly oppose any intervention which intentionally hastens death as a means of relieving suffering.’
The Association’s website explains that while CMDFA members do not oppose the withdrawal of futile treatment which artificially prolongs life in those whose death is inevitable and imminent, as Christians they believe the role of the physician is to first do no harm. The CMDFA ethics committee members are therefore opposed to a change of the law which would put them in the contradictory position of facilitating the death of people under their care.
Dr Burke further explained, ‘Euthanasia bills have been repeatedly debated and usually defeated. In the presence of suffering, a comprehensive and integrated approach is needed that addresses the physical, social and psycho-spiritual needs of all concerned. Hence we call for the continued strengthening of palliative care services and their increased accessibility for all Australian citizens. We call on all medical professionals to retain their commitment to patient centred, evidence based, Hippocratic medical care.’
Legalisation of euthanasia risks devaluation of the lives of the sick as well as creating an environment where the rights of vulnerable patients are threatened. Government reviews from the Netherlands repeatedly show that a significant number of patients are given euthanasia without explicit request or consent, despite the guidelines which aim to protect them.
‘For these reasons’ said Dr Burke, ‘we encourage further development of comprehensive palliative care services as a solution to the suffering of those in our community. Furthermore, we are firmly opposed to any moves to legalise euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide in Australia’.