Associate Professor Nicholas Tonti-Filippini is a bio-ethicist in Melbourne, who well known for his stance in the cause for the right to life. What has been unknown is that this man has for many years been fighting illnesses that have led him to the point where he is now - a dying man. He has been receiving palliative care for his pain but has gone as far as he can go.
Despite this pain and knowledge that he is dying, Nicholas Tonti-Flippini remains a strong advocate against the introduction of voluntary euthanasia. This time the threat is in South Australia. He has written a very strongly worded letter to Mike Rann, the South Australian Premier, setting out his reasons against those who continue to advocate euthanasia on demand. Here are some of the reasons:
Facing illness and disability takes courage and we do not need those euthanasia advocates to tell us that we are so lacking dignity and have such a poor quality of life that our lives are not worth living.I would like to record my own view that it would not benefit seriously ill South Australians, particularly those who are terminally ill and suffering intractably, if the Voluntary Euthanasia Bill became law. The current legal situation in South Australia, while not perfect, does provide a measure of protection against the terminally ill being regarded as a burden. As a chronically ill person I know well what it is to feel that one is a burden to others, to both family and community, how isolating illness and disability can be, and how difficult it is to maintain hope in the circumstances of illness, disability and severe pain, especially chronic pain.
For several years, until I objected, I received from my health insurer a letter that tells me how much it costs the fund to maintain my health care. I dreaded receiving that letter and the psychological reasoning that would seem to have motivated it. Each year I was reminded how much of a burden I am to my community. The fear of being a burden is a major risk to the survival of those who are chronically ill. If euthanasia were lawful, that sense of burden would be greatly increased for there would be even greater moral pressure to relinquish one’s hold on a burdensome life.
The proposal to make provision for a terminally person who is suffering to request, and a doctor to provide, assistance to die makes it less likely that adequate efforts will be made to make better provision for palliative care services. Legalised euthanasia would give those responsible for funding and providing palliative care a political “out” in that respect.
In Australia, too little is done to make adequate palliative care available to those who need it:
• Current entry requirements for palliative care usually exclude people with chronic pain and is often limited to people who are in the last stage of cancer with a prognosis of less than eight weeks;
• The pharmaceutical subsidies for the more effective forms of pain relief are often restricted to cancer patients;
• People living outside major cities have little access to palliative care facilities.
• Few doctors are adequately trained to provide palliative care.
• Such palliative care services as exist are chronically underfunded and struggle to provide the complex range of services that are needed to assist a person to live with pain and disability.
• Most pain clinics are over subscribed and have long waiting lists. For people who are left suffering, such waiting is unconscionable.
If euthanasia is a legitimate option with a determined structure, such as was the case in the Northern Territory for a brief period, and is now proposed for South Australia, then life for the chronically seriously ill would become contingent upon maintaining a desire to continue in the face of being classified as a burden to others. Essentially the Bill involves setting up a category for people whose lives may be deliberately ended. Their protected status as a member of the South Australian and Australian communities depends on a contingency. Passage of the Bill would imply that our community considers that our continued survival depends on us not succumbing to the effects of pain and suffering, depends on us not losing hope.
I have lifted what I see as the most important points being, but I do suggest that you read the whole thing on the Andrew Bolt blog.
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