Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Assisted Dying

Also known as Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Euthanasia

Author: Ian Wood (page 1 of 7)

Everald Compton, Uniting Church Elder, “Voluntary assisted dying. Crunch time at Queensland parliament.”

Everald Compton is the longest serving Elder of the Uniting Church in Australia (61 years). He serves also as Chair of ACTS which is a Uniting Church Charity that forms partnerships with people who are in needy circumstances. He was associated at the highest level with National Seniors Australia for many years. Read more of Everald’s impressive CV here > https://everaldcompton.com/about/

Everald explains the reasons why he, as a devout Christian, so strongly supports Voluntary Assisted Dying.

News item posted by Ian Wood

Voluntary assisted dying. Crunch time at Queensland parliament.     By Everald Compton, Queensland

Last year, the Queensland Parliament voted to authorise its Health Committee to hold public hearings throughout Queensland to assess public attitudes to Voluntary Assisted Dying and Palliative Care. They did an extraordinary job of holding hearings far and wide across the State and encouraging all opinions to be expressed.

I spoke at one of the hearings and it was evident that there was huge support for Queenslanders to have the right to choose to end their lives peacefully and in comfort when faced with an incurable illness. It was also clear that people felt that palliative care services were not adequate and were not an alternate to Voluntary Assisted Dying as many people will choose both. People who attended other hearings gained the same impression as I did.

At the same time as the public hearings were being held, The Clem Jones Foundation conducted a professional survey of community attitudes on the matter and found that at least three out of every four Queenslanders believed that they should have the right to elect to end their lives via Voluntary Assisted Dying.

So, we now await the report of the Health Committee which is due to present it to Parliament no later than 31 March this year. I have no inside information on the matter but my gut feeling is that the Committee will recommend that Legislation to legalise Voluntary Assisted Dying be placed before the Parliament for a conscience vote as soon as possible.

The key issue is whether or not the Premier will decide to hold the vote before or after the election which is due in October, 2020. If she delays the vote it will become a huge election issue with every candidate being forced to state their position on it.

In my role as Campaign Leader of Dying With Dignity Queensland, I am pushing hard for an immediate vote and I have no doubt that it will passed by the Parliament.

[PLEASE NOTE Due to the Corona virus issue the Dying with Dignity Rally that was to have been held on Thursday 19th March at Speakers Corner opposite Parliament House has been cancelled. Everald was to be a speaker at the Rally.  It is possible that the speeches supporting VAD will still be made and circulated to MPs]

We are [still] simply asking the Parliament to vote urgently to authorise Voluntary Assisted Dying in Queensland for those who so choose, similarly to the right that Victorians and Western Australians now have.

I am one of the speakers and my task is to state why, as a Church Elder, I am publicly supporting Voluntary Assisted Dying when the Churches of Queensland have joined together to make a submission to the Inquiry opposing it.

The key factor is that they believe that God decides who lives or dies. I have never ever believed that. God gives you and me the spiritual power to handle whatever life and death throw up at us. With death being an inevitable and unavoidable part of life, why let many people suffer agony to get there.

I will be a definite candidate for Voluntary Assisted Dying if ever I face a terminal illness and I have advised my family in writing that this is my wish.

Indeed, if I become geriatric and am to be committed to a nursing home I will find a way to end my life. I have had a wonderful life and I am not going to end it as a vegetable. And I am not going to waste money on pointlessly and selfishly staying alive when I want my grandkids to have as much of my estate as possible.

Churches, by opposing Voluntary Assisted Dying, are actually encouraging suicide and this is utterly irresponsible. There is clear and irrefutable evidence Continue reading

WA Parliament passes Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation, 10.12.2019

The WA Parliament passed its Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill on 10.12.2019.  The House of Assembly first passed the Bill 45 votes to 11.  It then moved to the Legislative Council, where, after protracted debate, it was passed 24 votes to 11 with 55 Amendments.  These amendments were all agreed to by the Lower House, with no votes against.  Western Australia has now joined Victoria.  The margin of MPs in support is heartening.

I sincerely thank EVERY person involved in getting this legislation passed. It is an achievement of monumental proportions. My hope now is that Queensland and the other states will have the courage and compassion to pass their VAD legislation promptly. In addition, now is also the time to give the right to pass VAD legislation back to the Territories.

I have sent the following email to the Queensland Minister for Health, and intend to also send it on to the Health Ministers and Premiers in SA, NSW and Tasmania, and also their counterparts in Opposition.

Dear Hon Dr Steven Miles

It must be very rare to find a Minister for Health in tears (of compassion) when giving a speech.  WA Minister for Health Roger Cook has done much to restore my faith and trust in the political system and democracy in Australia.  He, and WA Premier Mark McGowan, have actually listened to the wishes of 88% of West Australians about Voluntary Assisted Dying and then acted upon them.

I pray that you, Dr Steven Miles, as Minister for Health in Queensland, will reflect on this over the Christmas break, and early in the new year show the same courage and compassion for people dying in Queensland, by giving them the legal choice of Voluntary Assisted Dying.


WA Minister for Health, Roger Cook, joins Premier McGowan, giving thanks in Parliament for the passing of the VAD Bill, 10.12.2019 – By a very appropriate coincidence, on World Human Rights Day.

https://www.facebook.com/MarkMcGowanMP/videos/2645272722434034/

Continue reading

Ian Wood condemns the Australian Christian Lobby and their quote: “Euthanasia is our vain attempt to deny and reject God’s plan for suffering”.

Copy of letter from Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Assisted Dying.  Please note this letter contains images that are disturbing.

4.11.2019

Mr Martyn Iles
Australian Christian Lobby
Eternity House
4 Campion Street
DEAKIN ACT 2600

Dear Mr Iles,
“God uses the challenges and trials of life, in all its phases and seasons, to train us and make us better” and “Euthanasia is our vain attempt to deny and reject God’s plan for suffering”.    [To quote from a poster on your ACL Facebook]

What a horrible, vindictive, abusive, sadistic God you portray!  Statements like yours make it readily understandable why Australians are leaving the church in droves.

Thankfully, my concept of God is of love, empathy and compassion. I was given a brain with which to think, and that thinking motivates me to aim to live a good and moral life, yet would also enable me to rationally choose a medically assisted death should I be faced with dying with intolerable suffering. You, and your associates at ACL, are of course welcome to suffer as much as you wish, as that would be your choice, but how dare you tell others what they must endure!

Let’s take just three case examples using your twisted logic. Thousands more are readily available.
Example 1.
Jason, a victim as a young child of the paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale.  You can read that Jason is certainly undergoing “the challenges and trials of life” and then you try to tell us that in some warped way your God is using these challenges to “train” Jason and make him “better”!!!!

Jason: “In 1976, when I was turning 13, I was attending the Mercy Nuns convent (St Malachy’s) at Edenhope. Father Gerry Ridsdale lived right near the school and he was the school manager. I was an altar boy and he was always asking me to come to his house, saying that he had some jobs for me to do there. My mother used to insist that I should go.

“He used to assault me at his house, in his car and at the church (including at the altar when the church was empty and locked). This went on for two years. He did everything to me that you can imagine. He penetrated me countless times.

“After each molestation, he would grant me Absolution,……”
(Ref: http://www.brokenrites.org.au/drupal/node/55 )

Example 2.
Flora, had been suffering from Multiple Sclerosis for 40 years, and for the last two years she was, quite rationally, pleading for help to die. Yet you are stating that these years of suffering are to “train” Flora and her loving daughter Tracey. You state Flora’s suffering is “God’s plan” and then cruelly say that Flora’s plea for assistance to die is her “vain attempt” to reject this plan Continue reading

A realistic insight into the limitations of palliative care by Beverley Young, retired Palliative Care Nurse Specialist.

Palliative Care Nurse Specialist Beverley Young shares this very moving example of why palliative care can never adequately control all end of life suffering, and why the additional option of Voluntary Assisted Dying is needed.  Just why this dying gentleman was moved from a major Sydney hospital for a skin graft is impossible to understand!
Ian Wood.    Posted with permission.

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UNDERSTANDING END OF LIFE, PALLIATIVE CARE AND A REALISTIC INSIGHT INTO PALLIATIVE CARE              AND END OF LIFE SUFFERING

Beverley Young

(Retired Palliative Care Nurse Specialist –20 years’ experience –Post Graduate Qualifications in Palliative Care)

I completed my Nursing Registration with a Diploma of Applied Science (Nursing) in 1988 from the Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education, Lismore, (now Southern Cross University).  Following this, in early 1992,I completed my Bachelor’s Degree in Health Science (Nursing) from Armidale University, while in the Graduate Program at Lismore Base Hospital.  In June 1992 I commenced work as a Registered Nurse in Palliative Care at a dedicated and well-known “Hospice” (for the dying) in Sydney.

In 1995 I completed Post Graduate studies in Advanced Palliative Care at The University of Technology,Sydney.  During my employment at the well-known dedicated “Hospice” facility, I attained my accreditation as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Palliative Care, and was employed there until July 2004.  During this time, I was also seconded to another Hospital in the capacity of Clinical Nurse Specialist to work alongside a Palliative Care Specialist.  Additionally, I served on the Community Palliative Care Team, as a Consultant.  In the last 4 years of my employment I was a Level 11 Palliative Care Supervisor.

Palliative Care:

Palliative Care is delivered in a range of different environments and these include:

•Within a dedicated “Hospice” environment

•Within a general hospital setting where there may be dedicated “palliative care” beds or a “palliative care” section of the hospital

•Within a “Home” environment (e.g. Hospice Services) although the “Home” option is limited due to palliative care resources

Through my observations and experience I wish to state that Palliative Care may not be delivered to the same standard that you find in a “dedicated” Hospice environment. Standards vary because of insufficient training of doctors within a true palliative care setting.

Palliative care aims for excellence at all times but, despite this, the best efforts to achieve this continue to fail a small percentage of cases and people can and do suffer an horrendous end of life experience with many expressing the wish for their suffering “to be over”. There is also, sadly, a monumental “fail” at times, when medical professions choose not to acknowledge a patient’s terminal state, and continue to subject people to invasive procedures.

I have so many experiences to recount. For the purpose of this “post” I will discuss one example of how Palliative Care is not able to help with all suffering at the end stage of life. Similar experiences demonstrate why I advocate for exceptional palliative care –uniform and standardised –regardless of the palliative care environment in which it is delivered.  My experiences also demonstrate why I fully support Voluntary Assisted Dying Legislation for those who seek this option to end suffering and die a peaceful death.

A Chinese gentleman, with advanced bowel cancer, came to the Hospice in which I worked, for “respite” care –he was referred to us from a large “general hospital”. The “plan” was “build up his condition in preparation for skin grafts to his buttocks”.  A very unusual Continue reading

Genevieve McCool – a story of horrendous futile end-of-life suffering inflicted by doctors and a Catholic hospital, Canada

Ian Wood:  During my 10 years as spokesperson for our group I have read many horror stories of extreme futile suffering inflicted by doctors in a most callous way.  However this story of Genevieve McCool dying in a Canadian Catholic hospital must rank among the most horrendous!  It was just prior to the Canadian MAID (Medical Assistance in Dying) legislation.  Burning at the stake, as in the days of Giordano Bruno, burned to death for ‘heresy’ would have been far more humane!

The following is published with the authorisation of Theresa McCool.  Warning: A photo here is graphic and disturbing. Theresa is sharing this story in the hope that it will assist in the passing of VAD legislation in the other states and territories of Australia, and not just be limited to Victoria.

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Theresa McCool
Toronto, Ontario
Canada    22 June 2019

My name is Theresa McCool.  I live in Canada where MAID (Medical Assistance In Dying) is now legalised. It was not legalised when my Mom died in 2015.

I believe Voluntary Assisted Dying, as it is known in Australia, should be legalised in every country in the world. We are all individuals, we all lead our lives in different ways, we choose different partners, different career paths, choose to have children or not have children, become religious, choose not to be religious. So, when it comes to the point where we do not have any choice, when we can no longer have control over our lives due to the debilitating nature of a terminal illness or an incurable illness, when quality of life disappears and we are left with pain and suffering and a loss of quality of life, then we deserve to have the right to request for assistance to end that pain and suffering.

I share with you the story of my Mom and what happens when the country in which you live does not have legislation and what happens when you find yourself in a Catholic hospital where the hospital’s policies and procedures, based on religious faith, override your basic human rights, deny you the opportunity to end suffering and leave your loved ones and their families, forever traumatised by the circumstances of their suffering and their deaths.

Before my Mom became ill, I worked as a volunteer with VON (Victorian Order of Nurses) for ten years, visiting clients with terminal illnesses, clients who had had surgeries, were at the end of life, receiving Palliative Care, and whose families also needed bereavement support. Many of my “assignments” would last from three weeks to a year. Continue reading

Belinda’s Brave Walk – to raise the profile of Voluntary Assisted Dying

Belinda Teh starts her walk from Melbourne to Perth in memory of her Mum’s horrific and futile end of life suffering from breast cancer, to raise the profile of Voluntary Assisted Dying and to help convince MP’s of the need for this compassionate choice in Western Australia.  Walk safely Belinda, with best wishes, Ian Wood

Belinda says: “As a devout Catholic and nurse for 39 years – much of her nursing career spent in aged care – my mum could hardly be better informed about the moral and medical considerations at the end of one’s own life.

My beautiful mum Mareia experienced a horrific death which modern medicine and caring specialists could not save her from – and I don’t want her suffering to be in vain. 

I want WA to introduce voluntary assisted dying laws so that no Western Australian with a terminal illness has to die the way my mum did, enduring unspeakable pain and suffering that cannot be palliated in their final weeks, days and hours. 

Mum was a devout Catholic her whole life and took much joy in practising her faith. Equally, the day she asked for assisted dying, she did so without a hint of shame, and to me that means that she had reconciled her religious beliefs with her personal wishes in her own way. I like to say that “she had a chat with the man upstairs, and they figured it out between them.”

I want to send a message of hope to other Western Australians who have had their hearts broken, and a message of urgency to the politicians who are representing us when I leave Melbourne on 28 May, as I plan to trek west on foot, arriving in Perth on 6 August.

Belinda will be sharing her adventure on Facebook, you can stay updated by liking her Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/BelindasBraveWalk/

To read more about Belinda and her mum, and to support Go Gentle Australia, go to http://www.belindasbravewalk.org.au/

Photo and story quoted on this website with permission.

 

Gov Philip Murphy, compassionate statement when signing New Jersey Assisted Dying Act

Governor Philip Murphy,  of New Jersey, USA, a ‘lifelong practicing Catholic’, has signed the “Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act”, on April 12, 2019, and made this incredibly thoughtful and compassionate statement (below) in support of assisted dying choice, at the time of signing.     Posted by Ian Wood.

https://nj.gov/governor/news/news/562019/approved/20190412a.shtml

New Jersey Gov Philip Murphy ……..
GOVERNOR’S STATEMENT UPON SIGNING
ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 1504
(Second Reprint)
Today I am signing the “Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act”, Assembly Bill No. 1504 (Second Reprint), which permits terminally ill, adult patients residing in New Jersey to obtain and self-administer medication to end their lives peacefully and humanely. I commend the bill’s sponsors — particularly Assemblyman Burzichelli, for whom this bill has been an extremely passionate and personal mission since he first introduced it seven years ago — for their tireless efforts to craft legislation that respects the dignity and autonomy of capable individuals to make end-of-life decisions.


The legislation I am signing today is the product of a near-decade long debate among policy makers, religious organizations, experts in the medical community, advocates for persons with disabilities, and patients, among many others. Without question, reasonable and well-meaning individuals can, and very often do, hold different moral views on this topic. Through years of legislative hearings, countless witnesses, many of whom shared deeply personal and heart-wrenching testimony, offered compelling arguments both in favor of and against this legislation.


As a lifelong, practicing Catholic, I acknowledge that I have personally grappled with my position on this issue. My faith has informed and enhanced many of my most deeply held progressive values. Indeed, it has influenced my perspectives on issues involving social justice, social welfare, and even those topics traditionally regarded as strictly economic, such as the minimum wage. On this issue, I am torn between certain principles of my faith and my compassion for those who suffer unnecessary, and often intolerable, pain at the end of their lives.


It is undeniable that there are people with terminal illnesses whose lives are reduced to agony and pain. Some of these individuals may thoughtfully and rationally wish to bring an end to their own suffering but cannot do so because the law prevents it and compels them to suffer, unnecessarily and against their will. I have seen such debilitating suffering firsthand in my own family, and I deeply empathize with all individuals and their families who have struggled with end-of-life medical decisions. As things now stand, it is the law, rather than one’s own moral and personal beliefs, that governs such decisions. That is not as it should be. After careful consideration, internal reflection, and prayer, I have concluded that, while my faith may lead me to a particular decision for myself, as a public official I cannot deny this alternative to those who may reach a different conclusion. I believe this choice is a personal one and, therefore, signing this legislation is the decision that best respects the freedom and humanity of all New Jersey residents.
Continue reading

Christians Supporting Choice for VAD in Australia interview with Canadian Atheist.

I was delighted to have the opportunity to be interviewed by journalist Scott Jacobsen of the Canadian Atheist. Scott posed a series of questions on my approach with Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Assisted Dying.

The full interview, with my answers to Scott’s questions, can be found here > https://www.canadianatheist.com/2019/01/wood-jacobsen/

I hope readers find the article of interest.

It is encouraging to Continue reading

Liberal candidate Nathaniel Smith at odds with six other Wollondilly Electorate candidates on Voluntary Assisted Dying!

Liberal candidate Nathaniel Smith at odds with six other Wollondilly Election candidates on one issue – Voluntary Assisted Dying!

There was a good attendance of over 200 at a “Meet the Candidates” meeting organised by Friends of Bowral at the Mittagong RSL on Monday evening, 4th February, 2019.

All the candidates spoke on their aspirations for Wollondilly Electorate – particularly with regard to our hospital, schools, more policing, roads – including the Bowral Bypass, the water crisis – including the Murray/Darling, protection of animals and the environment, controlled development with infrastructure first, and the need for better, faster public transport to the area.

In fact only one question from the audience resulted in a significant difference of opinion! Judy Hannan (Independent), Charlie Fenton (One Nation), Jo-Ann Davidson (ALP), Clive West (Greens), Heather Edwards (Animal Justice), and Jason Bolwell (Shooters, Fishers & Farmers) were all unanimous in support for end of life choice for the terminally ill enduring severe suffering with even the best palliative care. Such Legislation is now law in Victoria.

Nathaniel Smith, (Liberal), was the only candidate to say he would vote against that choice. When asked by the questioner (Geoffrey Williams) why he would vote against Voluntary Assisted Dying when a majority of the Electorate would support it, Mr Smith simply stated that it was his opinion.

As Geoffrey Williams commented after the meeting – “This is yet another example of the Coalition, particularly the Liberal Party thumbing their noses at Democracy. They arrogantly believe that only their opinion matters. That’s easily fixed – we can vote for any of the other candidates present at the meeting, ALL of whom have a compassionate view.”

Top Canadian CMA doctors Buchman and Blackmer speak to UK Parliament in support of assisted dying

My thanks to My Death, My Decision for posting this article on their Facebook page.  Ian Wood

Dr Sandy Buchman, President-elect of the Canadian Medical Association addressed a UK Parliamentary group.  December 11, 2018

“I see assisted dying as one more tool in the service of palliative care’s core mission of alleviating suffering” – Dr Sandy Buchman, Canada.

As a palliative care specialist,  Dr Buchman acknowledged that his personal journey towards accepting assisted dying had spanned over two years.  He stressed that it was his belief high quality palliative care was key to good end of life planning, but that assisted dying did not threaten the provision of such care, but somewhat perversely strengthened the case for ensuring that palliative care was accessible and available.

Closing on a personal example, Dr Buchman explained that whilst he was initially hesitant about the prospect of assisted dying, he ultimately decided that helping patients who wanted to decide when and how they died, was an extension of what he had been doing already: helping to relieve suffering.

Dr Buchman explained that when he first participated in an assisted death, for a professor of medicine suffering from Lewy body dementia, he had been struck by the sense of “illumination”, as though “a weight had been lifted”, when he agreed to discuss the prospect of an assisted death, let alone participate.  He explained that whereas before his patient had explained he felt hopeless, especially after exhausting the options of traditional palliative care, the option of an assisted death enabled the patient’s mood to lift, and allowed him the dignity to die from a peaceful death surrounded by those he loved.  

Ian Wood comments: I frequently read how the option of assisted dying, once the patient has been accepted, is palliative in its own right and a tremendous morale booster for that dying person.

Dr Sandy Buchman, the President-elect of Canada’s Medical Association, who was joined by his Vice-President Dr Jeff Blackmer, discussed the role doctors had played in shaping Canada’s decision to legalise assisted dying in 2016. Continue reading

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