January 28th 2017


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COVER STORY Company tax proposal just made for Trump

EDITORIAL Trump installed but the left refuses to accept it

CANBERRA OBSERVED Greens' footprints all over travel claims

U.S. POLITICS Team Trump to implement new President's agenda

INTELLIGENCE Lame report on Russian interference in U.S. poll

ENVIRONMENT The scientific myth within the Murray-Darling Basin Plan

EUTHANASIA Case for assisted suicide "not made": Daniel Mulino

OPINION Submission is the fit word, Tim, not humility

OBITUARY WA loses NCC founding member, Frank Malone

GENDER POLITICS Safe Schools Coalition versus child safe schools

RURAL LIFE Sandalwood a balm for forgotten farmers

MUSIC Swing low and deep: it don't mean a thing if it don't have that

BOOK REVIEW The tyranny of the offended

BOOK REVIEW Not quite perfect but worth a revisit

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EUTHANASIA
Case for assisted suicide "not made": Daniel Mulino


by Paul Russell

News Weekly, January 28, 2017

Victorian Parliamentary Secretary for Treasury and Finance Daniel Mulino MLC hit back at suggestions that assisted suicide and euthanasia could ever be made safe in an article in The Australian on Tuesday January 10, 2017.

The tenor of the article suggests that Mr Mulino is in the minority in his own party in opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Mr Mulino was a member of the eight-person committee that looked into “end-of-life choices” and reported to the Victorian Parliament in June last year recommending, among other things, that the Parliament move to create assisted-suicide legislation. Mr Mulino and longstanding Liberal Party MLC Inga Peulich tabled dissenting reports.

A dissenting voice: Daniel Mulino.

The committee report consisting of 343 pages does not make the case for assisted suicide or euthanasia, as Mr Mulino points out; it simply regurgitates what has happened before by referring to a convenient cohort of other pro assisted-suicide reports and finding themselves in agreement. Nothing in the report grapples in any way with objections.

One might have hoped that some space would have been given to those who put the case against changing the law from among those who were interviewed by the committee; even if only for the sake of rebuttal. That no mention is made of the interviews conducted in Oregon and in Belgium with well-known and expert opponents also suggests that the report itself was substantially written before the committee travelled.

The failure to format the dissenting reports or even number and index them properly supports this suggestion and beggars belief.

“I believe that published evidence in relation to the Northern Territory and international jurisdictions where euthanasia and physician-assisted dying are legal shows that safeguards do not work in practice,” Mr Mulino told The Australian.

“Systemic compliance failures include low reporting rates, documented cases of failure to comply with expert sign-off requirements, and practical difficulties in appropriately dealing with issues such as depression and other mental conditions that relate to consent.”

Mr Mulino said international studies had shown that terminal patients had been forced to make decisions on their life “while under pressure”. “In addition … there are problems associated with ‘scope creep’, where eligibility for euthanasia tends to increase over time, sometimes in a non-transparent manner.”

With a Doctorate in Economics from Yale University, Mr Mulino is no slouch. Nor does he overstate the case. Throughout his work he simply argues that the evidence he presents deserves consideration. Nowhere does he accuse his colleagues of getting it wrong; he simply lets the evidence speak in an organised and logical fashion.

All that those who supported the majority report effectively did was to say that they thought that there were no safety issues and that Victoria should, therefore, go ahead and legislate. Worse than that, they played a cynical game with the people of Victoria by framing the question as though there were no other genuine alternative. They argued that the status quo was a “head-in-the-sand” approach, and that prosecuting assisting in suicide more firmly to reduce any abuse would not work in practice, leaving the only real alternative an assisted suicide framework.

The committee did not give Victorians much of a choice at all.

According to The Australian, Mr Mulino also said that assisted suicide laws would be unworkable. Premier Daniel Andrews has announced the formation of a taskforce to create model legislation that would include “many safeguards that would gain community support”.

But what if Mr Mulino is right? What if, in their deliberations, the taskforce members find themselves in agreement with the myriad reports and court judgements that were ignored by this committee?

For example: “The evidence from other countries shows that risks of abuse are all too real and cannot be dismissed as speculative or distant.

“The safeguards built into any liberalised system would, furthermore, be vulnerable to laxity and complacency and might well prove difficult or even impossible to police adequately.” High Court of Ireland, Fleming v Ors 2013

Mr Mulino is right: there are system failures at every turn that create opportunities for abuse both of the law and of citizens in reporting schemes that will always provide cover and inevitably test the boundaries.

Another example: “… to create an exception to the general prohibition of intentional killing would inevitably open the way to its further erosion whether by design, by inadvertence, or by the human tendency to test the limits of any regulation.” House of Lords Select Committee 1998

And so, if Mr Mulino is right, Premier Andrews has put his taskforce in a very difficult position: they cannot comply with the briefing; they cannot achieve their goal; and any claim to have done so will be a dangerous fudge putting Victorians at significant risk.

Paul Russell is executive director of HOPE: Preventing Euthanasia & Assisted Suicide  www.noeuthanasia.org.au, and vice-chairman of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) International. He blogs at http://blog.noeuthanasia.org.au.




























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