A new book says that making euthanasia and assisted suicide legal will harm family relationships, damage the trust we place in the medical profession, and corrode the bonds of civil society forged between individuals within communities.
In his book, Euthanasia: Putting the Culture to Death? Seven Questions about Assisted Suicide, Peter Kurti says that mounting pressure to legalise assisted suicide and euthanasia is a one-way ratchet asserting the primacy of individual choice.
“Euthanasia advocates insist nothing can ever outweigh that choice, but these demands need to be resisted because of the impact individual choice about assisted suicide will have on wider society — on the family, on friends, on the local community,” Mr Kurti says.
He argues that when society permits some of its citizens to be killed, it tears the fabric of community and threatens to put the culture itself to death.
“Suicide in Australia is a national tragedy and the leading cause of premature death,” he says.
“Until 2017, it was an offence everywhere in Australia to assist another person to commit suicide. The campaign to change the law is based on ‘compassion’ but will only lead to the normalisation of selective killing.
“Euthanasia advocates refer to “dying with dignity” but it is an empty phrase used largely for rhetorical effect to describe to mask fears about what happens before death occurs.
“When euthanasia advocates appeal to the principle of ‘personal autonomy’, they fail to see this is inconsistent with their argument that important restrictions would also be placed on the availability of euthanasia.
“The legalisation would mark the first move down a ‘slippery slope’ that would see the categories of eligibility expand, eroding the moral significance of killing human beings.
“Doctors are to heal, not to harm. The motive of ‘compassion’ is not enough to justify extending the role of doctors to include the act of killing,” he says.
Peter Kurti is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies.
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