When emotions drive the debate, we all lose

I reported recently about the suicide death of an elderly Victorian woman suffering chronic arthritis. Used as a media spike for euthanasia, it was anything but an example to be considered. 

The family of Mrs Hookey are under investigation in respect to her death. They were in the home that night.They maintain that they had nothing to do with her death and I, for one, have no problems accepting that assertion.

The family are upset that they are 'being treated like criminals'. An understandable sentiment. No one like the idea of being thought of as having committed a crime. But being a 'suspect' is not the same as being proven as a criminal and our laws treat people as innocent until (unless) proven otherwise.

While it is clearly uncomfortable, especially at a time when they are grieving for their loss, it is nevertheless a necessary process that we expect or law enforcement officers to take. As I mentioned in my last article, the process, hopefully, will find the Hookey family innocent of any wrong doing. That in itself is a positive outcome as it would put to bed any possible lingering doubt to the contrary.

Today, carrying on in the pro-euthanasia tradition of trading on emotionalism, newly-eleccted Sex Party MP in the Victorian Upper House, Fiona Patten, called for Victorian Police to drop the investigation. This is bad public policy at so many levels.

Patten told News Limited:"This brave woman made the decision to end her own life and went to some lengths to ensure that her family were not implicated in her death."

"But still Victoria Police continues to investigate Mr Hookey and his family, prolonging their grief and making a mockery of her final wishes."

Suggesting that the Police have some desire to inflict additional grief on this family is beyond the pale coming as it does from a public servant and law maker.

Members of Parliament interfering in Police matters, even in a press article, is not something that we should welcome, especially when doing so supports an MPs private agenda.

We also need to consider what effect it would have if, as a matter of procedure, Police were instructed not to investigate such cases for fear of upsetting the families of the deceased. It would be an open door to abuse. Not only abuse of the law prohibiting assisting in suicide, it would also provide an effective immunity from investigation for elder abuse resulting in death - murder. Public policy based on emotions instead of objective and reasoned assessment of the facts puts us all at risk.

That is precisely the kind of possibility that would be created with euthanasia and assisted suicide law. In the Oregon and Washington assisted suicide laws, once the prescription for the lethal substance is filled, no one really knows whether the person for whom the prescription was written actually died at their own hand. There is no realistic possibility of investigation at the time and the state records are destroyed after only a year. That is a clear recipe for abuse and an abandonment of the principle of the equal protection of all citizens.

In Belgium and The Netherlands the occurrence of euthanasia where consent and request was not recorded is well documented; most cases involved the elderly and infirmed.

Patten is calling for a 'joint parliamentary inquiry' into euthanasia and assisted suicide, and says 'the state needs laws that specifically allow this and that protect families in the Hookeys' situation.' While we welcome an inquiry, I can't help but think the Victorian Parliament would better serve all Victorians by investigating elder abuse and its consequences.