Formerly known as Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Euthanasia

Tag: Voluntary Assisted Dying (Page 1 of 4)

Ian Wood, Co-founder of Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Assisted Dying group awarded Life Membership of VADSA

On Saturday 23rd July, 2022, during a brief visit to South Australia, I was delighted to be presented with an Honorary Life Membership Award by Frances Coombe, President of Voluntary Assisted Dying South Australia (VADSA).

Ian Wood receiving Life Membership Award from Frances Coombe.

In accepting this Award, I expressed my thanks to Frances Coombe and the VADSA team for this recognition, and my humble gratitude to every person who has helped our group in so many ways, and who have continued to motivate me in my work of advocating for Voluntary Assisted Dying as an additional compassionate end-of-life choice from the aspect of Christian support.

I recalled that I first found out about SAVES, as it was known then, late in 2004 .  My Mother was dying in the last stages of Alzheimer’s in December, and I wrote to our local MP Rob Kerin and to the Premier Mike Rann challenging them to go and visit my Mother in her terrible emaciated condition – saying there must be better and more compassionate ways of dying.  Of course they never came. Sadly, access to VAD is still not available to those with dementia related illnesses in Australia.

My activity really started when late in 2008 Frances Coombe asked me and also Rev Trevor Bensch to consider forming a Christian support group.  Trevor had previously written letters to the SA MPs in support in 2007.  Then the three of us met in the North Adelaide Baptist Church Vestry and Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Euthanasia was officially formed 9.2.2009. We had our first article in the Advertiser on 23rd Feb 2009 by Jill Pengilly.

Now, every state has passed a Voluntary Assisted Dying law, amazing progress over the last few years.   It is a recognition that while good palliative care is important, the additional VAD choice is also needed, providing great peace of mind to those using it.

Ian Wood, National Co-ordinator and Spokesperson, Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Assisted Dying.  Continue reading

New South Wales passes Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill – the 6th and final state!

New South Wales passes Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill – the 6th and final state!

May 19, 2022  It took many years of lobbying for this additional compassionate end of life choice, however the NSW Legislative Council, after considering around 100 adverse amendments in a long debate, and rejecting them all, passed the final stage of the VAD Bill 2021 by a substantial majority of 23 votes to 15. The Bill had passed the Lower House 52 votes to 32 on the last sitting day of 2021.   The final version of the VAD Bill was then adopted in the Lower House on 19.5.2022.

A previous NSW Bill was lost by just one vote in 2017, about the same time Victoria passed their VAD Act.

This is an emotional time, as I think back to my late friend and mentor, Rev Trevor Bensch, who co-founded our group with me early in 2009.  Trevor was a hospital chaplain, and some of what he had witnessed led him to support the VAD choice.  We met with The Advertiser reporter Jill Pengelley in the vestry of North Adelaide Baptist Church, and this article was our first piece of publicity!

We have updated our terminology since to reflect that used in all Australian VAD legislation.

Above: Rev Trevor Bensch with our first Patron, Kym Bonython AC, DFC, AFC

I must thank every person who has written and spoken to MPs, those who have shared their stories of loved ones who endured needless suffering at the end of their lives, every Voluntary Assisted Dying Group in each state and territory, Andrew Denton and the team at Go Gentle Australia, Rev Dr Craig de Vos B.V.Sc., Dip.P.S., B.Th.(Hons.), Ph.D., and so many others who have assisted me in our part in reaching this goal. Huge thanks go also to Alex Greenwich MP, all the co-sponsors of the VAD Bill, Adam Searle MLC for his work in the Legislative Council, and every MP who spoke and voted to pass the Bill.

Of course the final step in VAD legislation throughout Australia is to have the Right of the Territories to enact VAD legislation restored.  This was taken away in what is known as the ‘Andrews Bill’ by the Howard Government, after our Northern Territory under the guidance of Marshall Perron became the first jurisdiction in the world to pass a ‘Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995’ to give end of life choice.

We do need to be aware that it will be18 months before VAD actually becomes available in NSW, to allow for setting up all the facets of the Bill re access.

To those who have opposed this legislation – we do remind you that the key word is voluntary and there is no compulsion for you to use the law in any way.  We all support more funding for palliative care, and better access to palliative care in remote and country areas, but also know that the Voluntary Assisted Dying choice is needed in addition to the best possible PC.

History has been made and the wishes of Continue reading

Petition to the NSW Parliament – Please pass the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 without delay

Five states in Australia now have a Voluntary Assisted Dying law and only New South Wales is lagging behind. We need this compassionate end-of-life choice in addition to palliative care.

A VAD Bill passed the NSW Lower House on the last sitting day of 2021 by a substantial majority of 52 votes to 32. The Bill has now been introduced in the Upper House, to be debated in the coming weeks. Please add your name to the ePetition now, to help make this Voluntary Assisted Dying law a reality in NSW.

PETITION TO NSW PARLIAMENT: Please pass the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill without delay

Bertie and Darcie Daniels lost their Dad Lawrie in 2016. He took his own life in 2016 after years suffering MS. If assisted dying laws had been in place these children would have more time with their beloved Dad. They want to spare other families the same tragedy.

Photo: Go Gentle Australia

 

If you live in New South Wales please add your name today  to the ePetition using this link > Please pass the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill without delay

If you live outside of NSW but have family or friends in NSW who support the Voluntary Assisted Dying Choice, please share the ePetition link with them today.

Continue reading

A new NSW Legislative Council ePetition ‘Please pass the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 without delay’ – is open for you to sign.

A post for the huge majority of voters in New South Wales who support Voluntary Assisted Dying choice.

An new ePetition ‘Please pass the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 without delay’ is now open for signatures on the NSW Parliament website.

You can find the ePetition here > https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/lc/pages/epetition-details.aspx?q=GJ4dfvM5HMkcInxR8OeCrw

Please sign now and please share with all your friends and family in NSW who would wish to have this compassionate End-of-Life Choice passed in NSW.

We are the only state still without a VAD Act! The NSW Lower House passed a VAD Bill 52 votes to 32 on the last sitting day 2021, but your help is needed now to get it through the final hurdle – the Legislative Council.  Debate may start in the Legislative Council as early as February 22nd, 2022

Together we can make it happen!

Note that those opposing our Right to choose VAD in NSW have a counter Petition, so your assistance by signing in support is vital.

If you are reading this and live outside of New South Wales, but know people in NSW who support VAD,  please share this post with them now.

Photo: DWD NSW

Thank you,  and please stay Covid free.

Ian Wood

Spokesperson and Co-founder, Christians Supporting Choice for Continue reading

Archbishop Desmond Tutu gave his blessing to the Voluntary Assisted Dying campaign in Australia.

We mourn the death of Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on 26.12 2021

Archbishop Tutu was a leader in human rights issues as well as a strong supporter of Voluntary Assisted Dying.

One of the world’s most highly regarded religious leaders, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu of South Africa  stated in the  video message above: “People who are terminally ill should have the option of dignified and compassionate assisted dying alongside the wonderful palliative care that already exists”.  “I pray that lawmakers, politicians and religious leaders have the courage to support choices terminally ill citizens make in departing Mother Earth with dignity and love.”

Ian Wood, spokesperson for the Australian group, Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Assisted Dying, said in 2017 on an earlier post on this website,  “I am delighted to learn that Archbishop Tutu is willing to give his blessing and support to our Christian campaign for legislation to allow the option of compassionate choice for a person who is terminally or incurably ill with intolerable suffering.”

“The Archbishop recognises the enormous value of palliative care, Continue reading

Sept 22nd 2021 marks 25 years since the first legal assisted death of Bob Dent in NT and 4 years since the tragic dying of Elizabeth Holmes in NSW

On September 22, 2021, we recall the first legal assisted death in Australia, in fact in the world, that of Bob Dent in the Northern Territory on September 22, 1996, 25 years ago.  Bob had suffered from prostate cancer.  We thank Marshall Perron, who, as the Chief Minister of the NT, initiated this legislation.  Sadly, this legislation was overturned by Federal Parliament the following year by the Howard Government by what has been known as the Andrews Bill.  We acknowledge Bob’s wife, Judy, who, as President of the NTVES (NT Voluntary Euthanasia Society), has been lobbying for 25 years to have the Right of the Territory restored to the NT Parliament to enact a VAD Bill.

Tragically, on the same date, September 22, but in 2017, Elizabeth Holmes, who had been in agony for some time from stage 4 breast cancer and other serious health problems, decided the only way to relieve her suffering was to take her own life in Tamworth, New South Wales.  As Elizabeth (Liz) noted just prior to her death, this desperate action could have been avoided if NSW had had a Voluntary Assisted Dying Law.  Such a law would have given Liz a compassionate extra choice in the manner of her dying.

New South Wales is now the only state remaining without a VAD law,  It is time!  COVID-19  has made many of us contemplate our dying and should not be used as a reason for delaying legislation.

This following speech by Sandra Nelson, MLA for Katherine, NT,   talks of the circumstances prior to the death of Elizabeth Holmes.  It is surely yet another reason why a Voluntary Assisted Dying  law is needed  in New South Wales.           The speech has now been shared with all NSW Members of Parliament by Elizabeth Holmes’ daughter.
Posted here, including photos, with permission. 

ADJOURNMENT – EUTHANASIA
23 November 2017
Madam Speaker, I rise tonight to commend Premier of Victoria – Daniel Andrews and his government on the historic passing of voluntary euthanasia laws which were passed in Victoria’s Upper House on Wednesday 22nd November.
Madam Speaker , There are few topics as popular, and yet divisive, as euthanasia. Both sides raise compelling arguments, and those arguments are numerous.

End of life care for the terminally ill or those with ir-remediable illnesses is dictated by law, regardless of what is in the best interests of the patient. The current prohibition on assisted suicide is at odds with our otherwise patient-centred health system, it’s almost contradictory. This is the one area of medical care in which the patient’s views cannot be considered and taken into account in determining a course of action.

Many of those who would seek assisted suicide are not physically capable of taking their own life. Even where a person is capable of taking action themselves, it is my opinion that it is barbaric to leave them with the choice between a potentially long and undignified death or violent options to take their own life.

The Northern Territory likes to think of itself as frontier country – it was certainly at the forefront of the international debate over euthanasia. On 25 May 1995 it became the first jurisdiction in the world to pass laws allowing a doctor to end the life of a terminally ill patient at the patient’s request. In doing so, the law permitted both physician-assisted suicide, and active voluntary euthanasia in some circumstances.

And under the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995 (NT) strict conditions applied: it is neither an unqualified ‘licence to kill’ nor an unqualified affirmation of a competent adult patient’s right to assistance in dying.

Madam Speaker, a couple of weeks ago I was visited in my electorate office by Sharon Cramp and her husband Spud.
Sharon and Spud shared with me the story about Sharon’s beautiful mother, Elizabeth Ann Holmes. Liz broke her back when she was 53, she battled breast cancer for 12 years, and had Continue reading

“There is nothing holy about agony” – UK religious people and leaders support assisted dying too!

There is nothing holy about agony: religious people and leaders support assisted dying too

My thanks to the BMJ for publishing the following article.  Ian Wood, Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Assisted Dying Group, Australia.

BMJ 2021; 374 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n2094 (Published 09 September 2021)                                                              Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n2094

Jonathan Romain, rabbi and vice chair,  

George Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury

A new alliance of faith leaders has formed to ensure the voice of religious proponents of legalised assisted dying is heard. The former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey and rabbi Jonathan Romain argue that nothing in the scripture directly prohibits assisting a death to end suffering.

We are leaders of a new religious alliance in support of doctor assisted dying (along with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Reverend Canon Rosie Harper). We have launched this initiative because we are concerned about the impression being conveyed that all faith groups are implacably opposed to changes in the law to help people longing to die on their own terms, without discomfort, indignity, or extreme pain. This is not the case. A massive change is going on in religious attitudes to assisted dying (by which a person is given a prescription for life ending drugs, which they themselves then order and take). Not least the fact that most church goers are in favour of assisted dying; a 2019 poll, for example, found that 84% of the British public, 82% of Christians, and about 80% of religious people overall supported assisted dying for terminally ill, mentally competent adults.1

Far from being modern, the problem of having to endure a painful end to your life has long been recognised in religious circles. The Book of Ecclesiasticus, for example, which is accepted in the Roman Catholic canon and is non-canonical but esteemed for Jewish and Protestant people, even expresses the view that “Death is better than a miserable life, and eternal rest than chronic sickness” (30:17).

More than physical suffering

A key motivation for people who want to die is the desire to avoid pain. It is not just physical suffering that appals them, but a range of other situations: the humiliation (in their eyes) of failing powers; the limitation of their ability to enjoy life; their dependency on other people; the lack of control over their bodily functions; the sense that they have nothing to look forward to, except ever worsening decline; and the unwelcome image of being sedated into a state of narcotic stupor in their final days, or with their bodies sprouting a forest of tubes.

Of course, many people regard such a death as a regrettable part of the natural cycle of life, to be mitigated through medical care if possible and to be endured if not. That is entirely their prerogative and must be respected. But should people who want to avoid pain and indignity in death have the right to do so? And should other people have the right to prevent them making that choice about their own life?

Who chooses when?

A biblical passage that—deliberately or accidentally—may be relevant to the challenge today is the famous line in the Hebrew Bible and Old Testament: “There is a time to be born and a time to die” (Ecclesiastes 3.2). Notably, it does not say who chooses that time. In previous eras, theologians and leaders assumed that both were pre-ordained by God and that any human interference was sinful, but now it can be read differently. The time to die could just as well be our decision.

Some mainstream faith leaders might claim that this is contradicted by the verse from Job: “God gives and God takes” (1:21), and we cannot usurp that prerogative. Yet the God barrier has long been pushed aside both at the beginning and end of life, with humans acting in lieu of God, whether by doctors’ efforts to create life using test tubes or to postpone death through heart transplants.

If the religious ideal is to imitate God’s ways, then it is our duty to use our God given abilities as much as possible. We could argue, therefore, that assisted dying is part of the constant act of playing God in the sense that God wants us to help people in distress: to heal where possible, to comfort when needed, and to help Continue reading

South Australia passes Voluntary Assisted Dying law!

After 25 years and 17 Bills, South Australia has become the fourth Australian state to pass a Voluntary Assisted Dying law!  24th June, 2021.

By working together we have made this happen!

Our grateful thanks go to Kyam Maher MLC for initiating this Bill in memory of his Mother, Viv.  What an outstanding memorial!!  Thanks also go to Dr Susan Close for her contribution in the House of Assembly.  Then more thanks to all involved in the campaign including the VADSA team led by Frances Coombe, together with Anne Bunning, Susie Byrne, and Julia Anaf.  Plus Dr Roger Hunt, Jane Qualmann, Angie Miller, Kym Watson, Rev Michael Dowling and Rev Dr Craig de Vos have all been invaluable SA advocates for compassionate end-of- life choice. Apologies to those I have omitted!

At this time we also remember with gratitude those campaigners who have died waiting for the law to be passed.  These include our group Co-founder, Rev Trevor Bensch, our former Patron Kym Bonython, Bob Such MP and folk such as Mary Gallnor.

Others outside of SA who have mentored and assisted me to reach this stage include Tanya Battel, Penny Hackett, Shayne Higson, Geoffrey Williams, Adrian Price, Rev Ken Devereux, Mike Gaffney and Norma Jamieson, also Andrew Denton and Kiki Paul of Go Gentle Australia, ……………

Now we shift our focus to Queensland, New South Wales and the 2 Continue reading

A Christian responds to QLD Bishop Timothy Harris and his article against voluntary assisted dying choice

The Townsville Bulletin published a Letter to the Editor from Townsville Catholic Bishop Timothy Harris on 2.6.2021.

I responded with the following letter to editor, which has not been published by the Bulletin.

A Christian response to Catholic Bishop Harris “VAD Laws need rethink”, 2.6.2021

Bishop Harris states: VAD “laws will result in more deaths”.  Fact: these patients are already dying – there will not be any more deaths, just less horrific suffering as that life ends.

Fact: While there will always be a place for good palliative care – no amount of money or advancements will ever provide the required level of relief of all suffering.

Harris quotes Paul Keating against VAD Choice!  Fact:  What on earth are Keating’s qualifications to allow him to pontificate on how other Australians should suffer and die?

Harris states: “society will never be the same again”.  I imagine a similar remark was made at the end of the Catholic Inquisition, with the abolition of slavery and when women were allowed to have pain relief during childbirth!  Hopefully we can say the same when there are no longer any paedophile priests?

Fact: A significant majority of Australians have stopped, have thought rationally, and decided that a change in our society is needed to allow the option to choose a Voluntary Assisted Death.

Bishop Harris is welcome to maintain his medieval outlook on dying but how dare he try to impose his views on all other Australians, including a majority of Christians.

Ian Wood                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               National Spokesperson for Christians Supporting Choice for VAD                                                                                                        Mittagong  NSW

Here is the Bishop’s letter that I was responding to …….. Continue reading

Candles for Compassion event, Mt Gambier, SA, Friday 21st May 2021

If you live in the Mount Gambier area of South Australia,  please come with a friend and support this event.  If you have friends and family living there, encourage them to come and show their support for the choice of Voluntary Assisted Dying.

The encouraging news from South Australia is that on Wednesday 5th May 2021 the Legislative Council voted 14 yes and 7 No to pass the Kyam Maher MLC, Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill.  It now goes to the Lower House for consideration and Premier Marshall has indicated debate could start there as early as Wednesday 12th May.

Candles for Compassion will go ahead, either to continue to show MPs that legislation for compassionate end-of-life choice is needed, or to say thank you to the MPs who voted to pass the VAD Bill and as a Continue reading

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