Skip to content

At watershed moment, assisted suicide could expand in Australia

Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes

8/7/2019 (1 week ago)
Catholic Online (

Legal assisted suicide could expand in Australia, as the Western Australian government has introduced legislation to allow people deemed terminally ill to request it.


Catholic Online (
8/7/2019 (1 week ago)

Published in Europe

Perth, Australia, (CNA) - If the legislation is approved, assisted suicide, described by backers as "voluntary assisted dying," would be allowed for terminally ill people in a condition that causes suffering that cannot be relieved in a tolerable manner, the Australian Associated Press reports.

They must have an illness or medical condition that is advanced and "on the balance of probabilities" they must be expected to die within six months. If they have a neurodegenerative condition, they may seek assisted suicide if expected to die within 12 months.

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe of Perth has already spoken out against the proposed legalization of doctor-assisted suicide and euthanasia, calling it "both unsafe and unnecessary."

In two video messages, dated April 17 and June 15 on the Perth archdiocese's website, he characterized the assisted suicide debate as a true watershed moment in society.

"The decision parliament makes in the next few weeks will forever shape the way we do healthcare in W.A. It will change the way doctors relate to patients, and affect the confidence that elderly and disabled people can have in their caregivers," he said.

He stressed the importance of having doctors committed "to uphold the dignity of every human life, no matter how fragile or vulnerable it may be." Backers of such a society "cannot afford to remain silent in the coming weeks."

"One person should not be permitted to kill another person, no matter what. Please do not remain silent," said the archbishop. "Make your thoughts known to your local Members of Parliament, in both the legislative assembly and the legislative council as soon as you can. It's the only way your voice can be heard in this debate."

Under the proposal, a patient seeking assisted suicide must have decision-making capabilities and make the request three times, including once in writing with two independent witnesses. The bill requires two doctors to provide independent assessments of the patient and the coordinating doctor must provide a final review.

Only those who have been residents of Western Australia for a year or more will be eligible. Patients in remote areas may access doctors via teleconference. About 2.6 million people live in the state.

Unlike the new assisted suicide law in Victoria state, the Western Australia proposal allows doctors to raise the subject of assisted suicide with patients. Patients may also choose whether to self-administer the deadly drug.

Western Australia's Premier Mark McGowan, whose Labor Party controls the government, hopes to pass the legislation by the end of the year. MPs will have a conscience vote, meaning they will not be required to follow party leadership.

Health Minister Roger Cook has characterized the bill as cautious and compassionate, with sufficient safeguards to prevent abuses or coercion of patients.

But Archbishop Costelloe cautioned that "every safeguard introduced by on government can be relaxed by another."

He noted that a similar law in Victoria has already drawn criticism from assisted suicide advocates for being too restrictive. The archbishop warned the government could face continued pressure to expand legal assisted suicide. He also cautioned that some countries have moved towards legalizing euthanasia without consent.

Costelloe's videos warned of the risks of assisted suicide and stressed the Fifth Commandment, "thou shalt not kill," as a foundation of "good social order" that is enshrined "in the laws of almost every society in history."

The commandment rejects murder and manslaughter as "grave crimes" with "the harshest legal penalties" for those who break them, Costelloe said. The state government halted the death penalty for fear of causing wrongful death, he noted, and assisted suicide would reintroduce this possibility.

The archbishop sought to address the issue of end-of-life pain and care for the sick and dying.

The parliamentary inquiry received evidence that countered advocates' claims that pain and suffering cannot be relieved in some cases, he said, stressing the importance of proper therapy for severe pain and the need to quadruple the number of palliative care specialists in the country.

"There is no shame on relying on the care of others in time of illness or as death approaches," he said, adding that such a connection and reliance on others "makes us truly human."

As assisted suicide was legalized in the state of Victoria earlier this summer, the four local Catholic bishops criticized the new practice in a letter.

"We cannot cooperate with the facilitation of suicide, even when it seems motivated by empathy or kindness," the bishops said. They cited Pope Francis' characterization of euthanasia as part of a "throwaway culture" and rejected the idea that "the best response our community can offer a person in acute suffering is to end their life."


More Europe

Pope Francis: Discover the beauty of prayer in adoration Watch

Image of

Pope Francis said Sunday that prayer in adoration of God and service to others spreads the fire of God's love, changing the world one heart ... continue reading

A Catholic group wants to honor Ireland's oldest grandparents Watch

Image of

 In anticipation of the Irish National Grandparents Pilgrimage, a Catholic group has launched a search for the oldest grandparents in ... continue reading

In Ireland, Catholic group warns of housing discrimination against migrants Watch

Image of

A representative from an Irish Catholic charity has warned that discrimination against immigrants in the private housing market has forced ... continue reading

International scholars express concerns about John Paul II Institute Watch

Image of

A group of 49 academics from universities around the world has asked the administrators of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute in Rome to ... continue reading

Pope Francis gives thousands of rosaries to Christians in Syria Watch

Image of

Pope Francis announced Thursday that he is giving 6,000 blessed rosaries to Catholic communities in Syria as a sign of his closeness on the ... continue reading

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.