Victorian Catholics called on

of Victoria have issued a pastoral
letter to Catholics outlining
their opposition to the Victorian
Government’s Voluntary Assisted
Dying Bill.
Copies of the letter have been
sent to all Victorian parishes.
The fate of the historic Bill
now rests with 40 MP’s in the upper
It was passed through the lower
house at 47 votes to 37, following
a 25 hour sitting on October 19
and 20. Victoria will be the first
state in Australia to offer assisted
dying if the legislation is passed
by the upper house.
The bishops say that, if passed,
the Bill will change the criminal
code to allow doctors and other
health professionals to become
actively and deliberately involved
in the premature death of patients.
The proposed safeguards do
not guarantee that all deaths will
be voluntary and that people will
not also die because of carelessness,
error, fraud, coercion or
self-perceived pressure.
They point out that endorsing
suicide as a solution to pain of
suffering sent the wrong message
to the young.
“It would be plain wrong
to legally endorse any form of
suicide when governments and
community groups are working
so hard to persuade others that
there are better options available
than taking their own life.”
The bishops are calling on
Catholics of Victoria to make
their voices heard by sharing their
concerns about the Bill.
The contentious Bill to legalise
assisted dying for terminally
ill Victorians was introduced to
Parliament in September.
If passed without amendment,
people suffering from an advanced
and incurable disease, illness or
medical condition would get the
right to choose a doctor-assisted
death from 2019.
The Andrews Government’s
legislation is modelled on the
recommendations of an expert
panel chaired by former Australian
Medical Association president
Professor Brian Owler and
claimed to be the most conservative
in the world.
Under the proposal, terminally
ill Victorians could access lethal
medication within 10 days of asking
to die, following a three-step
request process involving two
independent medical assessments.
They must be over the age of
18, of sound mind, expected to
die within 12 months and suffering
in a way that “cannot be
relieved in a manner the person
deems tolerable”.
The patient must administer
the drug themselves, but a doctor
could deliver the lethal dose
in rare cases where someone was
physically unable to end their own
life. To read a copy of the October
9 pastoral letter which is signed
by Archbishop Denis Hart,
Bishop Paul Bird, Bishop Pat
O’Regan and Bishop Les Tomlinson
go to http://cathnews.
s s i s t ed-dy ing- b i l l -2017/
This story was first published in
the October 2017 issue of Catholic
Life – the diocesan newspaper
of the Sale Diocese.