Euthanasia: Anglican VAD submission

This last Friday submissions closed for responses to a consultation paper put out by Hons Lara Giddings and Nick McKim in their aim of introducing euthanasia – what they call “Voluntary Assisted Dying” (VAD).

The Anglican Church of Tasmania has made a submission “VAD: A Flawed Proposal for Tasmania” I have included it on the euthanasia resources page, here and the pdf version, here.
There are some details at the end of this post.
I also note that the Catholic Archbishop of Hobart, Adrian Doyle, has also made his submission rejecting the proposal entirely:

“The proposition put forward in the consultation paper for the legalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide in Tasmania has been rejected twice in the past 15 years by the Tasmanian Parliament,” he said. This was “on the grounds it would present a serious threat to people who are vulnerable because of age, ill health or disability”.

“International evidence demonstrates that if the principle of state-sanctioned killing were to be agreed, the risk of abuse could not be contained and pressure to widen the scope would follow inevitably.

“The position of the Catholic Church is that every person has a right to life and there is no person whose life is not worth living.”

Read full Mercury article, Euthanasia bid looks terminal.

* Please join in prayer and respectful conversation in order that this legislation be defeated.

* Some detail from the Anglican submission “VAD: A Flawed Proposal for Tasmania”

In 2012 the Synod of the Diocese of Tasmania, the main instrument of authority for the diocese, consisting of over 200 lay and clerical members from across the State passed the following motion:

that this Synod, recognising the likelihood of legislation being brought to the Tasmanian Parliament that would implement Assisted Suicide (also called ‘euthanasia’) reaffirms that any such legislation is unsafe, unnecessary and untested; being detrimental to a healthy society and the well-being of the vulnerable and elderly in our society: and

(a) calls upon the members of the Tasmanian Parliament to oppose any such legislation;

(b) requests the Bishop to provide to Parishes relevant information about this issue, including the opportunities for the Christian voice to be communicated to Parliament; and

(c) requests the State Government to devote more resources to the provision of palliative care throughout Tasmania.

This motion reflects the mind of Synod and reaffirms the long-held position of the Anglican Church with regard to systems of euthanasia.

This position was clearly articulated to the 1998 Inquiry:

“The Anglican Church is not opposed to allowing people to die when there is no possibility of that person recovering to live a meaningful life. Nor is the Church opposed to the administration of drugs for the relief of pain but which may also have the effect of shortening life.”

“The Church is opposed to active euthanasia, that is, when other people decide to terminate a person’s life either against the will of the person, without their consent or where a person has requested assistance to die.”

“Three basic theological themes underpin the church’s concerns. The first is the Christian affirmation of the sanctity of life. Secondly the church affirms that all of life is connected or related and denies the radical individualism and autonomy which underlies much of the argument supporting active euthanasia. Thirdly a theological view of suffering has an important place in the discussion.” [i]

Nothing has occurred since the time of this Inquiry that would suggest a need to change this position.

[i]       Anglican Church of Australia, Diocese of Tasmania,
Submission to the House of Assembly Community Development Committee Euthanasia Inquiry, June 1997, Pages 2 and 9


The Anglican Submission is set out as follows:

1 The VAD Paper: Unashamedly Prejudiced

1.1 Ignoring The Main Question

1.2 Demonstrable Double Standards

1.3 A Biased Process

2 The Anglican Diocese of Tasmania as Respondent

3 Flaws in The VAD Philosophy

3.1 Misrepresenting Compassion, Mishandling Autonomy

Autonomy Made to Violate Life

Simplistic About Suffering

3.2 Destructive Implications

Implied Value Judgements

Cruel Real Choices

4 Flaws in the VAD Paper

4.1 Unquestioning Use of Sources

4.2 Misused Data, Poor Logic

4.3 Opposing Arguments Misunderstood

5 Flaws in the VAD System

5.1 Subjective Safeguards

5.2 Unrealistic Criteria

The Coercion Criteria – Voluntariness

The Inability to Choose Criteria – Mental Competence

The Not Sick Enough Criteria – Nature of Illness

6 Recommendations

6.1 Recommendation #1 – Withdraw the Proposal

6.2 Recommendation #2 – Improve the Health System, Especially Palliative Care

6.3 Recommendation #3 –Improve Awareness about End-of-Life Care

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