Assisted suicide and euthanasia over 10 times higher

The Australian state of Victoria has reported more than ten times the anticipated number of deaths from assisted suicide and euthanasia in its first legal year.

The state of Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board reported 124 deaths by assisted suicide and euthanasia since 19 June 19, 2019 when the procedure became legal.

There were 231 permits issued for the procedure that year.

The Board’s report says 104 of those who died under the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 committed assisted suicide. A further 20 people were euthanized by a medical practitioner.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrew had predicted there would be ‘a dozen’ deaths in the first 12 months.”

Victoria Health Minister Jenny Mikakos, of the Australian Labor Party, also expected the number of people seeking assisted suicide or euthanasia to be low initially, and increase in later years. Like Andrew, she thought as few as 12 people would access the scheme.

“We anticipate that once the scheme has been in place for some time, we’ll see between 100 and 150 patients access this scheme every year,” Mikakos said shortly before the law took effect.

Applicants under the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 ranged in age from 32 to 100, with an average of 71 years of age.

Forty-four percent were female, 55 percent were male and 1 percent were “self-described.”

Most applicants – 78 percent – had diagnoses of malignant cancer and 15 percent had neurodegenerative diseases.

Anti-euthanasia advocate and director of HOPE, Branka van der Linden, called the number of deaths and the rate at which they were occuring “alarming.

“Half of those who applied for lethal drugs made their final request for euthanasia less than three weeks after they first requested it,” van der Linden said.

“That’s not a lot of time for reflection, for alternative options to be offered and explored, or for the necessary support to be provided.”

Archbishop Peter Comensoli of Melbourne said the number of suicides was “heartbreaking.”

The attitude toward death contradicts the extreme cautionary measures being put in place for the coronavirus pandemic, he noted.

“The whole state is making sacrifices to protect people from COVID-19 while on the other hand public hospitals are encouraging assisted suicide,” Comensoli told The Catholic Weekly. “The contradiction is baffling for many doctors.”

Tasmania is currently debating a bill that would legalize assisted suicide for Tasmanian residents 18 years of age and older, who “have decision-making capacity, (are) acting voluntarily, and have a relevant medical condition.”

Tasmania rejected a similar bill in 2013.


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