Deaths by euthanasia and assisted suicide in the state of Victoria, Australia, have almost doubled in the region since their legalization. Victoria is home to one of the world’s harshest lockdown regimes.
A compulsory bi-annual report put forth by the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board (VADRB) detailed activity from July 1 to December 31, 2020 (the law came into effect June 19, 2019). It stated the following, “the number of practitioner administration permits issued increased by 31.6 per cent, and the number of confirmed deaths from practitioner administration increased by 81.8 per cent.”
This was a significant increase from the previous six months in Victoria. The report displayed bullet-point headings with the following information:
- access to voluntary assisted dying [sic] has grown
- the number of medical practitioners involved continues to grow
- the Statewide Pharmacy Service experienced greater demand [for deadly drugs]
- applications were rarely withdrawn due to the applicant deciding not to proceed
- compliance with the Act remains high
According to the Australian Care Alliance, “The total number of deaths by euthanasia or assistance to suicide in July to December 2020 was 94 – almost double the 49 deaths by these means in July to December 2019…This represents 0.45% of all deaths in Victoria in July-December 2020. It took Oregon twenty years for deaths from legalised assistance to suicide to reach that rate.”
VADRB was quick to claim that the increase in people killing themselves had nothing to do with the Wuhan coronavirus or the region’s draconian shutdown.
“The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the Victorian community,” the VADRB report said. “However, there are no reasons or criteria related to coronavirus (COVID-19) that would result in a voluntary assisted dying application. The data shows that people continued to request access to voluntary assisted dying despite the restrictions placed on Victorians.”
One of the provisions of the euthansia law when it first passed was that requests for euthanasia must be made by the patient only and could not be initiated by practitioners: “Health practitioners are forbidden from initiating a discussion about euthanasia or suggesting it as an option to a patient. The first request must come from the patient themselves, without any interference.”
However, it seems that the VADRB – which supposedly “oversees the safe operation” of the new law – is not following guidelines.
“The Board ignores these matters in its advice urging Victorians when first given a terminal diagnosis to start thinking about obtaining a lethal poison to commit suicide or arranging for a doctor to give them a lethal injection,” wrote Alex Schadenberg, the Executive Director of Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. “There is a callousness to this advice that disregards important issues.”
“Naturally many people suffer from depression when first given a terminal diagnosis. Is this really the right moment to be encouraging a person to think about suicide or euthanasia?” Schadenberg noted.
Not everybody in Australia is on board with assisted suicide and euthanasia. The Australian Medical Association Tasmania issued a statement in December 2020 opposing a similar bill in the island state of Tasmania called the Tasmanian End of Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) bill.
“Physician Assisted Suicide is a form of euthanasia in which the deliberate ending of a patient’s life is intentionally undertaken or facilitated by a medical practitioner,” the doctors wrote. “Physician assisted patient suicide is not a medical procedure and it is not part of acceptable medical practice according to the World Medical Association, the Australian Medical Association and Palliative Care Australia. Almost all medical societies worldwide (105 of 107) oppose Physician Assisted Suicide.”
If the Tasmanian bill passes into law, it would make Tasmania the third state after Victoria and Western Australia to legalize euthanasia.
HD Editors Note: Why Is This News Biblically Relevant?
In 2 Timothy Chapter 3, the apostle Paul describes what the character of mankind would be like in the last days. These characteristics would serve as a sign that Jesus’ return is fast approaching. Among this list is a “Loss of Natural Affection.” This prophetically predicted characteristic is on full display as the murder of the weakest among us (through abortion, euthanasia, etc.) is celebrated and fought for by our godless society.
Answers in Genesis in their Article “Is Euthanasia a Biblical Solution to Terminal Illness or Suffering?” wrote:
As people around the world grapple with the issue of whether euthanasia (“mercy killing”) and physician-assisted suicide should be legal, it is the desire to retain control over our lives until the end that motivates many to push for a legal “right to die” on their own terms. When we realize that this is tantamount to asking for murder-on-demand, the sanitized sounding word euthanasia takes on its true colors.
How should we as Christians view this issue? Whatever direction the legal systems of this and other nations take—and whatever unhappy surprises our own lives may hold for us as individuals and for those we love—how can we be certain that our thinking on this issue is correct? It is quite easy to be caught up in the emotional rhetoric surrounding this subject and to be overwhelmed by emotional distress when we hear bad news from our doctors. Without a firm foundation in the Word of God, the decisions we make and the beliefs we hold about these complex issues may be swayed by emotions and governed by the fallible pronouncements of secular ethics committees or even resource utilization guidelines. Therefore, to prepare ourselves for the unexpected, it is important to base our thinking on the Word of God from the very beginning. Let’s get this straight in our minds now.
From the beginning—back in the Garden of Eden—human beings have wanted to take control of their lives. We see this in the historical account of Eve’s yielding to the serpent’s temptation to “be like God” (Genesis 3:5) and in Adam’s decision to follow her in rebellion to God.
The Bible does not condone the taking of one’s own life or euthanasia. It simply does not. God exhorts us to defend the “speechless … who are appointed to die” (Proverbs 31:8–9), not to kill them. God forbids murder (Exodus 20:13). Euthanasia—the destruction of another person’s life even to end their suffering—is a form of murder. It is wrong to do it and wrong to ask someone to do it for you. Having the choice to “shuffle off this mortal coil” through our own hand or the hand of another is not God’s plan for us. We human beings do not have the authority to make that decision for ourselves or our loved ones.
Yet despite all the appealing talk of “dying with dignity”—and who in their right mind would desire to die without dignity—suicide, even when assisted by a physician’s lethal prescription, and euthanasia—which is just a nice word for murder with a presumably merciful motive—are not acceptable options unless we are nothing more than animals.
But we are not just animals! We—every one of us—are all made in his image and therefore all human beings have lives of special value to God, so much so that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, gave his own life for us (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Hebrews 2:9–10). God’s account of creation recorded in the Bible is consistent with what wesee in the physical world and validates his ownership of humanity and his right to set our standards. And apart from a source of truth from someone greater than man, no person’s moral judgments are more valid than another’s. Human beings have many ideas about right and wrong, but as described in the biblical book of Judges, when God’s Word is ignored, everyone does what is right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25), and that is a recipe for disaster as much now as it was during the days described in the book of Judges. Only God who created mankind is justly in a position of moral authority over all mankind.
We must not, therefore, yield the ground to those exhorting us to embrace death prematurely—much less to put subtle pressure on others to do so—but rather focus on how we live in the light of God’s truth until life’s end.
This is a complex issue, and this article is not intended to address every aspect, much less to review the legal ramifications of laws and court decisions that can change in a day. This is, instead, a reminder that we need to base our thinking on the Word of God, which never changes and can be trusted to guide us through life and death.