The first state in Australia has voted to make voluntary euthanasia legal. The state of Victoria’s upper house voted to approve a bill permitting a doctor to assist patients to voluntarily end their lives. Victoria is now poised to become the first Australian state to legalize voluntary euthanasia.
The bill passed the upper house 22 to 18 after a marathon 28-hour sitting. Some MPs wept at the vote’s conclusion. All in all, the bill was debated by both houses of Parliament for about 100 hours.
The bill has many detailed requirements and restrictions, but it will give terminally-ill Victorians in intolerable pain and with less than six months to live the right to ask to end their lives. That timeframe will be extended to 12 months for people with neurodegenerative diseases such as Motor Neuron Disease.
The bill will become law in June 2019. Although the bill has already passed the lower house with a strong majority (47 to 37), it must go back in its amended form for a final vote, which is expected to succeed. The lower house can only debate the amendments.
“This has been a long debate and it’s been a long time coming,” said Premier Daniel Andrews. “This is Victoria at its best leading our nation.”
The bill received strong opposition from conservatives. The Australian Christian Lobby, for instance, accused the Andrews government of crossing an ethical line and “embracing a culture of death.”
The Australian Medical Association said the new legislation marked a significant shift in medical practice in Victoria. Doctors will have the right to conscientious objections and would not have to assist in voluntarily ending a person’s life. Victoria would be the first state to issue “death permits” once the law is in force.
Legally authorizing voluntary euthanasia is a slippery slope, which eventually expands those laws to include other, less voluntary deaths, such as Terri Schiavo’s case in the United States, children in Belgium and in less end-stage circumstances. Euthanasia places a higher value on “dignity” and “good dying” and devalues life, which can lead to other violations of God’s commandments. But moral relativism is a strong feature of the last days. A small compromise will lead to many injustices. The most atrocious example of this is Nazi Germany’s rationalization for euthanizing millions of Jews.
Fundamentally, euthanasia is a violation of the sixth commandment, which says, “Thou shalt not kill.” (Exodus 20:13) Euthanasia is a form of suicide and self-inflicted murder. Any society that moves away from God’s principles will eventually seek ways to end life prematurely whenever it is inconvenient or unwanted.
When Job’s wife suggested he euthanize himself, he responded by saying, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” Job 2:9. The Bible then tells us that “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” (Verse 10). In other words, by Job refusing to end his life, he did not sin.
Though we are not under obligation to keep someone who is suffering alive for as long as possible, we should not hasten his death, but let death take its natural course.
God’s Sabbath-keeping people will eventually fall under laws and decrees that will order their deaths as unwanted members of society. “A decree will finally be issued against those who hallow the Sabbath of the fourth commandment…giving the people liberty, after a certain time, to put them to death.” The Great Controversy, pages 615 and 616.