Is the euthanasia movement morphing into a movement for suicide on demand?

Elderly Australian scientist David Goodall has welcomed the publicity about his suicide in Switzerland last night as advancing the cause of euthanasia.

“All the publicity that this has been receiving can only, I think, help the cause of euthanasia for the elderly, which I want,” he said.

Activists such as Andrew Denton need to tell us if the goalposts have shifted from their previous stance that euthanasia would only be for the terminally ill who were in intractable pain.

The suicide of the healthy 104-year-old Perth man raises questions about the euthanasia movement’s political endgame.

Is it about relieving intractable pain for the terminally ill or is it about doctor-assisted suicide for all?

In Belgium, the mentally ill are now routinely euthanised.

Palliative care experts say that where proper care is available, no one need die the sort of painful death described by euthanasia advocates. Surely improving access to palliative care is where the debate should be focused, not on the less resource-intensive option of euthanasia.

Sensing that palliative care is negating the intractable pain argument, the euthanasia movement seems to be using Mr Goodall’s case to advance a more sinister agenda around normalising suicide.

Celebrity euthanasia campaigner Andrew Denton, who is pressuring the Western Australian and Queensland governments to allow doctors to kill, needs to explain whether or not he supports Mr Goodall’s suicide and, if so, at what age would he draw the line in Australian legislation.

As with so many “progressive” social causes, we are told there are no unintended consequences and that there is no slippery slope. Social conservatives are routinely ridiculed for raising arguments about flow-on effects. This is an effective technique that allows activists to avoid engaging rational argument.

But in Belgium, the mentally ill are now routinely euthanised and in Holland a woman was held down by her family as she struggled for life while a doctor gave her a lethal injection.

Conservative politicians and church leaders need to advocate publicly for palliative care and for the dignity of all human life.

Australia’s most famous euthanasia activist, Dr Philip Nitschke welcomed Mr Goodall at the Swiss dying facility last night. To the embarrassment of the euthanasia movement, Nitschke has long advocated that doctor-assisted suicide should be available to all, including the “troubled teen”.

Does Mr Denton and his organisation, Go Gentle Australia, stand with Dr Nitschke? This is an important question the mainstream media are avoiding in their overwhelmingly positive coverage of Mr Goodall’s suicide.

Conservative politicians and church leaders need to advocate publicly for palliative care and for the dignity of all human life. If politicians and advocates in favour of assisted suicide are the only ones speaking, it is no wonder the public become confused. As a society we already routinely kill our unborn on demand. Is the routine killing of the elderly next?

Lyle Shelton is a spokesman for the Australian Conservatives.