Is euthanasia legal in Victoria because of personal experience?

HOPE-Australia-Euthanasia-Victoria.jpgIs it a mistake to see lawmaking on a life or death issue only through a prism of personal experience? Should politicians be required to weigh personal experience against an obligation to protect the most vulnerable in society when considering the laws before them?

Peta Credlin of The Daily Telegraph seems to believe good policy should override even the most tragic of personal experience, stating:

I understand that good people will disagree and that often, our personal experiences with dying defines our viewpoint.

I could tell you that having lost my father to a stroke and a slow death six weeks later — he was only 60 and I was 25 — I might be a supporter of euthanasia. After all, no-one wants to see anyone they love suffer, and none of us want a painful death either.

But unlike so many others in this debate, I think it’s a mistake to see it through a personal prism.

In fact, that’s an indulgence if you’re making laws because we should make laws for the most vulnerable in society; for the worst case scenario, not the best.

We must make laws for the lonely, the depressed, the mentally at risk, those who might be preyed upon, the very old and the very young.

I don’t believe state sanctioned death — call it mercy-killing, call it euthanasia, call it assisted dying, whatever — is the mark of a civilised society.

Ms Credlin is correct. A civilised society is known by how it treats it most vulnerable members.

How does it reflect upon us when, in the name of compassion, we select policies that endanger the very people we claim to protect?

Assisted suicide is not simply about relieving the suffering of the terminally ill. If this was the case, then the Victorian Government would have made the investment into palliative care recommended by its own end of life choices inquiry.  The proponents of these measures have allowed their personal experiences, and resulting fear, to veil the dark reality of euthanasia.

And while we can sympathise, is that any way to determine law?