Assisted dying laws would 'weaken respect for life'

Palliative care at Calvary Health’s Clare Holland House, Canberra (Calvary Health)

A retired major general and a palliative care expert have made their cases against euthanasia on the first day of an ACT inquiry into end-of-life choices. Source: Canberra Times.

Nearly 50 years ago, major general Peter Phillips was mopping up after some of the most intense fighting of the Vietnam War. Had the Australian troops come from a culture that allowed mercy killings, it’s likely the North Vietnamese soldiers would have been shot, rather than taken back to the prisoner of war compound or the hospital, he says.

Instead, he remembers soldiers picking maggots from the wounds of enemy soldiers and binding their injuries.

On Friday, he sat before ACT parliamentarians – not on behalf of the Australian Defence Force, or the RSL, but as a private citizen – asking them not to make assisted dying legal.

“All I can offer you is the life experience of someone who’s just about 83,” he said.

“My example of shooting prisoners might be a bit way out but it’s a question of how society views life and death. I wouldn’t want to weaken our respect for life.”

His testimony kicked off the first day of hearings into the choices available to Canberrans at the end of their life.

The committee heard of the limitations of the ACT’s palliative care system, but also stories of physicians going above the call of duty for their patients.

Calvary Public Hospital’s director of palliative care, Dr Suharsha Kanathigoda, said: “Palliative care is not just about managing a symptom or talking to somebody or being there with them. It’s about knowing what makes them tick.

“Once you know what makes them tick, even if they were requesting to end their life because of those issues, you can still use it as an opportunity to find out what is the problem here and sort it out and make it happen. When that happens, the patient can die peacefully and comfortably.”

FULL STORY

A retired major general makes his case against the right to die (Canberra Times

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