Euthanasia activists are at it again.
Their latest focus is a concerted and coordinated push to remove the Commonwealth ban on telehealth appointments for euthanasia and assisted suicide approvals.
More than 1000 healthcare professionals dedicated to the care of the seriously ill, with expertise in numerous fields including Primary, Aged and Palliative Care, as well as Oncology, Psychiatry and Disabilities, have signed a letter in opposition to this latest campaign, urging the Standing Council of Attorneys-General to retain the current prohibition on the use of electronic communications for access to euthanasia and assisted suicide legislation.
Drawing on their collective experience and expertise, the professionals argue that removing the ban will result in great hazards and injustice for patients, and have highlighted the risks involved, including the exploitation of vulnerable patients, as well as the increased risk of coercion and misdiagnosis.
These laws were enacted to target unscrupulous people who prey on vulnerable patients, offering suicide counselling over the internet. But their relevance regarding euthanasia consultations remains: use of telehealth for euthanasia makes doctor shopping much easier to do, and increases the risk that depression or other factors impairing judgement will not be detected, given the difficulty doctors already have in detecting coercion when meeting with patients face to face, let alone on zoom.
How can doctors and nurses satisfy themselves that patients are not being coerced into seeking euthanasia by greedy or impatient heirs if they can’t meet them in person?
One of the signatories to the letter is Dr John Obeid, a geriatric care specialist, who has warned that overturning the ban would put patients at grave risk, and would result in unintentionally pushing them towards euthanasia and assisted suicide:
“The most vulnerable, who have the least resources, who are desperate and may need proper health care but can’t access it, would then feel like that (VAD) is the only option to them. It’s cheap – only a phone call and postage of the medication – whereas it’s really, really expensive to provide proper geriatric and palliative services. There would be no driver for government healthcare providers to actually provide services to these people, because VAD would be so affordable and easily accessible.”
We strongly encourage the Standing Council of Attorneys-General to heed the advice of these healthcare professionals. Their distinctive combination of knowledge and practical experience in this field places them in a unique position to advise on this critical issue.