Euthanasia: Archbishop of Adelaide

  Extract fom the Archbishop of Adelaide, Dr Jeffrey Driver’s Synod Address:

Voluntary Euthanasia

I am concerned about the recent renewed push for the legislation of voluntary euthanasia around Australia. I do not disparage the good intentions behind these initiatives. Few matters are more frightening and sad for modern Australians than the loss of personal autonomy and the endurance of severe pain and suffering that terminal illness can bring.

I continue to maintain, however, that the legislation of voluntary euthanasia is not the most helpful response to these concerns.

At the recent General Synod, the Anglican Church of Australia affirmed the sanctity of life and that “life is God’s gift and that our task is to protect, nurture and sustain life to the best of our ability”. Not every citizen would describe human life in these terms, but there remains a strong community consensus to uphold and care for others at their weakest and most vulnerable.

Legislation in favour of voluntary euthanasia, however well-intentioned, runs the risk of eroding our collective will to promote care and find cures for people with disability, for the depressed and mentally ill, for the poor, the aged and for those who are vulnerable in other respects.

The prohibition against deliberate taking of innocent human life is what impels us to research and practice good palliative care. It enables trust within the patient-carer, and patient-relative relationships. It frees the individual from constantly having to interrogate the hidden motives of others, and allows the sick and dying to accept their care without shame. It says to all of us that there is a time when we can stop being productive and allow others to help us.

If politicians believe voluntary euthanasia is a public policy priority of first importance, then let them seek an electoral mandate upon it. It is too significant an issue to be introduced in any other way.

Full report on Adelaide Synod and Archbishop’s Address is in the Guardian on page 6.

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