One of the main reasons that politicians have rejected previous attempts to decriminalise assisted suicide / euthanasia is that they realised that ‘safeguards’, while sounding good, would not guarantee the protection required for vulnerable people including the disabled, elderly, depressed or anxious, and those who feel themselves to be a burden or are under financial pressure. The international evidence backs up these concerns, and explains why so few countries have made any changes to the law around this issue. There are contradictory messages when society rightly wants to take a zero-tolerance approach to suicide, yet at the same time wants to approve a person taking their life. The potential for abuse and flouting of procedural safeguards is a further strong argument against assisted suicide. The solution is to ensure a palliative care regime that is fully funded and world class. That’s where the politicians’ focus should be. The recent inquiry into assisted suicide / euthanasia had 16,000+ submissions (80% of all submissions) opposing assisted suicide / euthanasia.
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