July 16th 2016

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY 2016 election: Malcolm makes allies malcontents

CANBERRA OBSERVED Electorate shock: PM touches reality's live wire

WA BUSHFIRE INQUIRY Ferguson report a beauty, but now the fight begins

AGRICULTURE Sweet success for farmers in Queensland sugar market


ECONOMICS Ignore scaremongers; Britannia rules apply

PUBLIC POLICY WA Meth Strategy 2016 a most welcome first step

EUTHANASIA Measure of success of Dutch tests will be death

HIGHER EDUCATION Trigger warnings: an infantile tyranny

FREE SPEECH From disagreement to discrimination: section 18C, Part 2

AUSTRALIAN HISTORY Middle Kingdom brings eternal Now down under

MUSIC Weighing up sounds and silence in John Tavener

CINEMA Memory, self and family: Finding Dory

BOOK REVIEW Mao Maoing a culture

ERICH VON MANSTEIN: Hitler's Master Strategist

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Measure of success of Dutch tests will be death

by Paul Russell

News Weekly, July 16, 2016

There is a question that I have put on occasion to those who are pushing for euthanasia and assisted-suicide laws.

Put simply I ask: If you are successful in your push for law reform on this subject, will you celebrate your victory and then close down your organisation? After all, the objective having been reached, there is nothing else to do.


I expect that there would be rank-and-file members of the various societies and organisations on this bandwagon who may well think: job done, back to the gardening (or other pursuits). But not so the leadership.


Unless a parliament is willing, in the first instance, to legislate euthanasia and assisted suicide for everyone in any circumstance, there will always be more to agitate for. Of course, such a bold initial push is never likely to happen.

That’s why, in observing repeated attempts to legislate in my home state of South Australia, we see variations on the theme in the many different ways that bills have been presented, all with the primary goal of getting something (anything!) on the statutes. Go for the full agenda and failure is guaranteed; go for a minimalist approach and maybe success will come, enabling, thereafter, the possibility of an incremental agenda.

We are seeing this in Canada at the moment with the excise of euthanasia and assisted suicide for minors and for mental-health issues from the debate and the promise of revisiting that agenda in three years’ time. Even in Belgium, which enacted the most liberal of euthanasia laws in 2002, we saw the amendment to include children pass in the parliament in 2013.

In Holland there is continued agitation for euthanasia under the term “tired of life” or “completed life”, ostensibly for people over the age of 70. The Dutch parliament is also looking into child euthanasia and already has euthanasia available for “emancipated minors” from the age of 12.

Now two euthanasia organisations are renewing their push for the so-called “Drion Pill” to be available “for people who do not qualify for euthanasia”. The Drion Pill is a suicide pill proposed originally by Huib Drion, a former Dutch Supreme Court judge and professor of civil law. He argued that people aged 75 or over should be able to end their own lives.

Dutch newspaper the NL Times reported on May 23: “The NVVE [Netherlands association for voluntary end of life] wants to launch a test with a suicide pill for people age 75 years and older next year. The Cooperatie Laatste Wil [Cooperation Last Will] wants the experiment to include all legal adults, people 18 years and older.”

The report added that both groups will soon submit proposals for such “experiments” and that the Dutch Democrats will propose such an experiment “by the end of the year”, with the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy signaling possible support.

What they expect to find from such an “experiment” is not stated. I’m guessing that deaths will be marked as success.

Imagine the pressure elderly people in Holland will feel if this pill is ever made available. Rather than people necessarily justifying a request to be made dead, the elderly will find themselves having to justify their will to live!

Even here we see the possibility of a further incremental agenda, with one group pushing for more (all adults) than the other (over 75 years of age).

Note well that this agenda is for those who would not qualify for euthanasia. So, while there is no suggestion of a reform to the Dutch euthanasia law of 2001 – one form of incrementalism – we can clearly observe that this move still serves the broader agenda of the euthanasia groups.

Consider also that if such an idea were presented to parliaments in countries where euthanasia and assisted suicide remained illegal it would be laughed out of session and dismissed as being totally unacceptable. The link between the existence of a euthanasia and assisted-suicide regime and the development of what would otherwise be unthinkable cannot be denied.

Make no mistake, once a society accepts that killing patients or helping them to suicide is an acceptable response to any kind of suffering, no limit will hold.

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