Archbishop Anthony Fisher, of the Archdiocese of Sydney, has blasted a proposed euthanasia bill in the Australian state of New South Wales set to be voted on this month.
Speaking online on Zoom, Archbishop Fisher said that doctors are supposed to heal patients, not kill them.
Criticising the attempt to introduce euthanasia in New South Wales, the Archbishop said:
“Until recently, it’s been a defining principle of our healthcare professions that they never kill or harm their patients or assist others to do so. International and national codes of medical and nursing ethics, all the way back to Hippocrates, have all forbidden killing by health professionals: they are healers, not killers…
“Do we want our health professionals assessing who should live and who should die?”
Already this year, South Australia approved an assisted dying bill, following Victoria, the first state to legalise the procedure in 2017, as well as Western Australia and Tasmania, which passed similar legislation.
Euthanasia only leads to more suffering and less freedom
Archbishop Fisher condemned several aspects of the New South Wales Bill, including the lack of protections for the mentally ill, as well as the absence of assurances that Catholic old age homes will not be forced to participate in euthanasia.
He also cited his own hospitalisation, after being diagnosed with Guillain Barré Syndrome, which for a time paralysed him from the neck down.
“I had terrible pain. I knew the humiliation of baby-like dependency”, he said. “But I also witnessed the triumph of the human spirit in the care people received, in the determination of some to conquer their disability or suffering or at least accommodate it and get on with their lives.
“After myself suffering a terribly debilitating and potentially lethal sickness, I became more convinced than ever that, whatever the motives and the rhetoric, a euthanasia regime will neither relieve suffering nor respect freedom: rather, it will mean those who are suffering will suffer more and those whose freedom is already limited will be even less free.”
The “tyranny” of euthanasia must be resisted
Michael Robinson, SPUC Director of Communications, said: “Euthanasia will rob the people of New South Wales of the essential humanity that Archbishop Fisher has attested to, underwritten by the refusal to give in to illness, whether it be physical or mental.
“Should euthanasia be legalised in New South Wales, we can expect to witness death on a large scale, which will only increase, with death becoming the default answer to the task of care – a terrible precedent that would become a far greater tyranny than the conditions it is said to ‘cure’.
“It must be resisted, in Australia as well as in the UK and elsewhere.”