Queensland bill kills conscience

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Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP of Sydney is calling on Catholics in NSW to fight the push for assisted suicide laws in the state after Queensland lost its own battle last week. Photo: Patrick J. Lee
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP of Sydney is calling on Catholics in NSW to fight the push for assisted suicide laws in the state after Queensland lost its own battle last week. Photo: Patrick J. Lee

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP is calling on Catholics in NSW to fight the push for assisted suicide laws in the state after Queensland lost its own battle last week.

The Queensland Parliament voted 60-31 to pass euthanasia and assisted suicide laws there on 16 September, with no amendments made.

One of the key amendments sought was an institutional conscientious objection that would have allowed faith-based hospitals and aged care facilities the right to exclude assisted suicide from taking place in their facilities.

“Catholic institutions that exist to uphold the dignity of human life from conception to natural death will be required to open the door and let the culture of death inside.”

“These laws are amongst the most extreme in the world because, in addition to failing to protect the vulnerable sick and elderly, they also fail to protect the consciences of those who do not want to be involved in these deadly practices,” Archbishop Fisher said.

“Under the new law, faith-based facilities will be forced to allow external doctors to perform euthanasia on their premises.

“Catholic institutions that exist to uphold the dignity of human life from conception to natural death will be required to open the door and let the culture of death inside.

The Queensland Parliament voted 60-31 to pass euthanasia and assisted suicide laws there on 16 September, with no amendments made. Photo: Kgbo/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0
The Queensland Parliament voted 60-31 to pass euthanasia and assisted suicide laws there on 16 September, with no amendments made. Photo: Kgbo/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

“Euthanasia advocates will now turn all their efforts to NSW, and so it is more important than ever that the Parliament hears from you.”

The archbishop urged Catholics and other people of good will to urgently contact their MPs and MLCs to oppose the proposed laws.

“NSW has come together so well in recent months and accepted restrictions on our freedoms so that we can protect our most vulnerable,” he said.

“We have made it clear all along to the Government that we will not allow voluntary assisted dying in our hospitals or aged care facilities, yet the Parliament has passed a law that forces us to do so.”

“Saying ‘no’ to these laws is saying ‘yes’ to true care and compassion to those who need us most.”

Queensland’s Catholic bishops had strongly opposed the proposed laws, with Archbishop Mark Coleridge concerned that with the passing of assisted dying, legislators would excuse themselves “from ever really having to address the proper funding of palliative care again”.

On social media, soon after the vote in parliament, Archbishop Coleridge wrote that it had been “a victory for death but a defeat for life…now we await the dark spectacle of unexpected consequences”.

Queensland’s Catholic bishops had strongly opposed the proposed laws, with Archbishop Mark Coleridge concerned that with the passing of assisted dying, legislators would excuse themselves “from ever really having to address the proper funding of palliative care again”. Photo: CNS photo/Paul Haring
Queensland’s Catholic bishops had strongly opposed the proposed laws, with Archbishop Mark Coleridge concerned that with the passing of assisted dying, legislators would excuse themselves “from ever really having to address the proper funding of palliative care again”. Photo: CNS photo/Paul Haring

Catholic Health Australia chair John Watkins said Catholic health and aged care providers are “deeply disappointed by a law which so clearly conflicts with their ethic of care”.

“We have made it clear all along to the Government that we will not allow voluntary assisted dying in our hospitals or aged care facilities, yet the Parliament has passed a law that forces us to do so,” Mr Watkins said.

“It places us in an invidious and extraordinary position.”

“Not even the news that Queensland has the highest suicide rate in the country was enough to give MPs voting in favour of these laws a moment of pause.”

He said the Catholic sector would work with the Queensland Government in coming months “on a system that reconciles our beliefs with its laws”.

Director of the anti-euthanasia organisation, HOPE, Branka van der Linden said the Queensland result was an incredibly disappointing outcome to say the least”.

“Not even the news that Queensland has the highest suicide rate in the country was enough to give MPs voting in favour of these laws a moment of pause,” she said.

“The sad reality is that this suicide rate will only increase now that the state has defined some suicide deaths as ‘dignified’.”

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