A counter protest was held against the legalisation of physician assisted suicide and euthanasia at Parliament House last Thursday 23rd August at 11:00 am.
Darryl Budge, FamilyVoice WA Director and Vice President, Coalition for the Defense of Human Life (CDHL) for the counter protest said, “We value our doctors and their commitment to preserving life. Euthanasia would turn doctors from healers to killers. It would cause them to dishonour the Hippocratic Oath to ‘First Do No Harm.’”
Furthermore, Mr Budge stated, “We must offer patients dignity, not death. A 2005 Canadian and Perth trial of dignity therapy showed better, more targeted palliative care dramatically altered desire for death.” 
Mr Budge fears that euthanasia laws would “put vulnerable and innocent people at risk, including the Indigenous and disabled communities, who feel assisted suicide fundamentally undermines their trust in the medical establishment.
The committee’s alarming 229-page majority report recommends going beyond granting access to those with terminal illness to include chronic and neurodegenerative conditions “where death is reasonably foreseeable as a result of the condition”. Similar clauses in Canada have been interpreted by the Ontario Supreme Court to allow assisted suicide for a 77 year old woman with osteoarthritis, which is a non-fatal condition. Doctors who object to assisted suicide will be forced to refer to a doctor willing to assist suicide.
Pro-life MP Nick Goiran released a 245-page comprehensive dissenting minority report, which refutes the claims of the majority report.
According to Mr Goiran, evidence from jurisdictions around the world, and even closer to home in the Northern Territory, demonstrates that no jurisdiction has yet created a safe legislative model to protect vulnerable members from a wrongful death. "Patient capacity, mental health, medical error in prognosis, misdiagnosis, undue influence, elder abuse and duress on people living with disability are just some of the many areas in which assisted suicide laws present far too great a risk especially given that the consequences are final. What we can say with certainty from the lived experience in other jurisdictions is that casualties are guaranteed."
"As a co-chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Palliative Care, I am convinced that the Government’s greater priority ought to be the making of specialist palliative care accessible throughout Western Australia. In the end I agree with Dr Michael Gannon who in May this year as President of the Australian Medical Association said: 'I have serious concerns about a community where we make arbitrary decisions about whose life is valuable enough to continue and whose should be ended under the law. A society should aspire to look after people who are struggling and to make sure that their lives are worth living. We should aspire to even better end-of-life care. We should aspire to better palliative care.'"
The majority report notes FamilyVoice Australia’s contribution to the euthanasia inquiry committee on page 445: “[w]e cannot afford to send mixed messages about the value of life or about suicide. So in a sense giving in to a person, whether older or younger, when they are for one reason or another suffering and desiring to end their life, in my view is bad policy and actually is counterproductive.”
By Darryl Budge
A proposed Code of Conduct, which is open for public submissions until August 17, could force doctors to accept ‘cultural beliefs and practises’ that are opposed to good medical practise, according to a group of doctors.
The Medical Board of Australia draft code of conduct that will apply to all Australian doctors requires doctors to be “culturally safe” and comply with a patient’s beliefs about gender identity and sexuality, with no provision given for a doctor to differ in their professional judgement.
A doctors’ group convened by Dr Lachlan Dunjey of Perth, has expressed concern for the future of medicine in Australia in light of the changes.
“We are concerned with the possible interpretation of ‘culturally safe’, that it should not impact on good health outcomes and good medical practice”, the group stated.
“We are concerned that ‘respectful practice’ is significantly different to ‘respectful of the beliefs and cultures of others’ and that this change also could impact on good health outcomes.
“Respect for a patient does not equal respecting ‘cultural beliefs and practices’ that may be antithetical to good medical practice.”
Dr Dunjey hopes language of the 2009 Code of Conduct remains unchanged in the new version: “‘Culturally safe’ does not necessarily equate to medically safe … ‘Respecting’ can be taken to mean agreeing with, affirming, and accepting that we cannot challenge false medical belief and inappropriate treatment.”
“To actually achieve good medical outcomes for patients, doctors have to be free to challenge difficult problems that patients might seek to avoid, such as “excess weight, excess alcohol, dangers of sexual behaviours – at the very least to tell medical truth”, he said.
Other possible areas of conflict relate to treating Body Dysmorphic Disorder, dealing with patients affected by Islamic cultural issues such as female genital mutilation and child marriage, and with issues stemming from indigenous cultural practices, such as sub-incision and pay-back.
The other point of contention is around access to medical care, and making sure doctors do not discriminate against patients on “medically irrelevant grounds”, which in the new set of guidelines includes “race, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or other grounds, as described in anti-discrimination legislation.”
The group has expressed concern over the addition of gender identity and sexual orientation to this list.
One of the reasons for questioning this provision, Dr Dunjey says, is that the term “medically irrelevant” is not appropriate for the additional grounds.
“Gender identity is relevant in so many ways including age, experience, psychological factors and last but not least any possible therapeutic intervention both medical and surgical with life-long outcomes and consequences. Likewise, sexual orientation is also medically relevant preventively and therapeutically with regard to past and current sexual practices.”
The group believes the wording of the 2009 version of the Code is ethically sound and should therefore not be changed.
The doctors insist that “a good health outcome is what we are about. It is intrinsic to good medicine and Good Medical Practice.”
It is also unclear whether doctors will be compelled to act contrary to their own conscience regarding patient requests for referrals. Labor MPs in Queensland including Deputy Premier Jackie Trad have demanded that Queensland doctors be compelled to refer women for an abortion, and thus violate the conscientious beliefs of many doctors.
What is clear is that the new guidelines will have a chilling effect on the freedom of doctors to publicly debate the merits of medical treatments.
Section 2.1 of the code warns doctors, “you need to acknowledge and consider the effect of your comments and actions outside work, including online, on your professional standing... you should acknowledge the profession’s generally accepted views... when your personal opinion differs"
The Medical Board is already bringing an Australian GP before the Medical Board for retweeting on Twitter. If the Code of Conduct is changed, this would stifle free speech and debate. The threat of deregistration would silence dissenting doctors who speak out — or even retweet — on debatable topics.
According to the Code of Conduct (1.2), “serious or repeated failure” to meet its standards may result in a doctor losing their right to practise medicine.
The draft Code can be accessed on the Medical Board of Australia website. The public can provide written submissions by email, marked: ‘Public consultation on Good medical practice’ to firstname.lastname@example.org by close of business on 17 August 2018.
Christian advocacy group FamilyVoice Australia has rejected a parliamentary proposal that would allow euthanasia in the Northern Territory.
“The Territories are formed by the Commonwealth and therefore federal Parliament must exercise a supervisory responsibility over them,” said FamilyVoice SA/NT Director David d’Lima.
“And as the Northern Territory has only one House of Parliament, the due diligence and safeguard provided by federal oversight is all the more important.
“The highly problematic 1995 euthanasia law in the Territory led to vulnerable and depressed people seeking to end their lives,” he said.
“The Commonwealth must not allow a revival of that shoddy enactment.”
Christian advocacy group FamilyVoice Australia has defended the custom of daily prayer in federal Parliament.
“The prayer keeps MPs humble as it calls attention to human frailty and the blessing of Almighty God,” said National Director Ashley Saunders.
“It also reminds Parliament about the Christian basis of Australia’s laws, customs and values.”
Christian advocacy group FamilyVoice Australia has commended the ALP for its "renewed democratic cooperation" after the party completed the FamilyVoice election survey just in time for the poll.
"For many years in Queensland and elsewhere we have not received survey responses from the ALP," said FamilyVoice National Director Ashley Saunders.
"The voters in Queensland are entitled to know where parties stand on key moral questions about faith, family and freedom," he said.
"So we commend the ALP for its renewed democratic cooperation ahead of this election, even though the party scored poorly."
The ALP achieved a total of 39 points out of a possible 100 in the FamilyVoice survey, while the LNP gained 68.
Labor did better than the conservatives on a question about parental responsibility in schools: the ALP agreed to definitely support parental rights in education, including consenting to sexuality and relationships programs, while the LNP response was less definite.
However, the LNP reported a strong commitment to daily prayer in Parliament, while the ALP gave no policy comment on that question.
FamilyVoice Australia upholds Christian values and the family: permanence of marriage, sanctity of human life, primacy of parenthood and limited government.
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