by Jessica Marks
With the announcement of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 (VAD) in Queensland, we have witnessed incredibly disturbing arguments being made already.
In a media statement, the Queensland Premier asserted: “This Bill will give people the choice to end their life with dignity.”
In any context other than arguing for VAD, would suicide be celebrated as more dignified? Framing the debate like this not only condones but actively promotes suicide.
Yet politicians can make such proclamations from their podiums, completely ignoring social mores and receive little if any blowback.
At this point, I start to wonder, has the Premier even read the draft legislation she speaks of so fondly? The second of five principles in the Bill states: “Every person has inherent dignity and should be treated equally and with compassion and respect.”
So, how do you square that circle, Premier? If every person possesses inherent dignity (that is, a permanent and essential characteristic), how can laws created by government specifically designed to permit permanently ending personhood via killing, possibly add or permit additional dignity units to accrue to an individual?
The truth is, the bill does not bestow or permit any more dignity. It can’t possibly do this, and anyone claiming it can is deliberately misleading or has been misled.
It is a harmful deception. That legalising VAD would allow a dignified death, strongly implies that Queenslanders who die before any legislative change are dying without dignity.
This is plainly absurd. That most media commentators do not even bat an eyelid when politicians make these claims is a shocking sign of the times.
It is a convenient lie that will be told again and again throughout public debate to try and pacify the conscience of lawmakers into thinking destroying the sanctity of life in pursuit of the pathway to death will lead anywhere good. It won’t.
We have a plethora of examples from the capitals of death – Belgium and the Netherlands. VAD advocates must advocate with the full knowledge that collateral damage with this Bill is not only a risk, but that history has proven it is inevitable.
Society loses when suicide is promoted in political speech and by doctors as the draft legislation permits. I’m sorry that when our nation faces massive mental-health challenges, a deceptive view of dignity is deployed.
The truth is, human dignity is inherent to all people, bestowed not by government but by a power far greater. Government remains legitimate only by protecting inherent dignity and a government that chooses to promote an agenda of death from conception to the care home cannot be trusted and should not be re-elected.
No matter how dire a situation may be, there is always help available for you.
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
Lifeline: 13 11 14
The Thomas More Centre is designed to provide guidance, formation and support for young people passionate about culture, politics and justice. Each year we host YPAT (Young Political Advocacy Training) – a week long training session where youth aged 18 – 30 from all across Australia come together to get equipped and informed about the things that matter via guest speakers, activities and networking. Applications for the July 2021 session are now open. Apply here.