SOME DEFINITIONS

Voluntary Assisted Dying, (VAD), is the term used when the patient takes or administers to themselves the fatal dose of a medication prescribed after their rational and continued request. It can also be referred to a Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID)

Voluntary Euthanasia, is a deliberate act intended to cause the death of the patient, at that patient’s request, for what he or she sees as being in his or her best interests.

It is preferable that VAD be the main option of assisted dying legislation, This constitutes an important safeguard. The Voluntary Euthanasia option would only be utilised if the patient was physically unable to self administer.

Terminal Sedation, in palliative care. The treating doctor decides the only means of relieving uncontrollable suffering is to put the patient into a coma until they die.  

Terminal illness, in relation to a patient, means an illness which will, in reasonable medical judgment, result in the death of the patient within 12 months.

Incurable illness, means an illness for which there is no cure, the prognosis is death, but the time frame for the progression of adverse symptoms and that death is not predictable.

In the context we are seeking to legalise choice, it is the right of an individual to choose a painfree, peaceful and dignified death, when the individual has no prospect of quality of a life with either dignity or purpose ahead of them. It applies either in a terminal illness eg the latter stages of cancer, particularly in the approx 5% of cases where palliative care is not effective, or an incurable illness with suffering that cannot be controlled to the satisfaction of the patient, Examples include Motor Neurone Disease, where the patient’s only prognosis is slow, lingering death, usually due to choking as muscles lose their capacity to enable the person to breathe.  While the action of voluntary euthanasia would still result in grief for the bereaved, this grief is greatly relieved by the knowledge that the person they loved dearly did not have to suffer unnecessarily.

Currently the only option within the law for a person with a terminal or incurable  illness who decides they have reached the stage of having no future except “life” as a vegetable, or endless pain, is suicide.  In that case not only do they have the terminal illness, but they are forced to die by themselves in a totally unloved environment, by drinking weed killer, driving a car into a tree, shooting oneself, etc.  Having the legal option of assisted dying enables an individual with the same terminal illness to die peacefully surrounded by love and compassion.

Assisted Dying is NOT suicide.  It is a rational choice between two ways of dying.  Assisting in a suicide would still remain illegal. 

Suicide is the deliberate and conscious attempt to kill oneself, most commonly a result of relationship difficulties  and/or mental illness (not necessarily depression – it may be bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia etc) and/or substance abuse. There are other explanations given by persons attempting suicide, including a desire for relief from extreme pain, and anniversaries of past losses.  Suicide may either be completed or attempted. The action would normally cause extreme anguish and grief to the bereaved family and friends.

With appropriate intervention it is possible that a completed suicide can be prevented and the person go on to live a happy and purposeful life.

Christians DO support voluntary assisted dying choice!