My husband and I had two consecutive daughters born with genetic disease. On diagnosis the geneticist told us they wouldn’t see their teenage years. We were devastated our beautiful girls were going to slowly lose the ability to eat, drink and finally breathe.

It was terrifying on so many levels, and so many questions no one could answer. So we settled on taking just one day at a time, we would deal with problems as they came.

They both didn’t even get to the age of one year: Molly died at 11 months and Annabelle died at 8 months. They had a rare muscular disease where their muscles would slowly atrophy making them unable to swallow and eventually breathe.

We cared for and loved them while we watched them deteriorate and become very unwell with pneumonia and then take their last breaths. We had a palliative care nurse and wonderful G.P. We kept them at home with their brother and us, and they were able to die at home in our arms.I don’t believe they suffered too much as we were able to give them oral morphine for pain relief. We were advised by our nurse and G.P. about doses and how to tell when they needed more. I believe they were kept comfortable on the medication.

It was so painful for us as parents to watch them die and let them go. The pain felt was due to the love we felt for our beautiful little girls.Euthanasia thankfully didn’t enter our minds and it wasn’t a legal option anyway. I can’t imagine compounding the pain and grief we felt as our beloved daughters were dying with a decision to actively end their lives sooner.

When you’re grieving a dying person, the confusion and fear is all consuming; having to make an active decision to kill them is dangerous. The guilt you may have to live with because you decided to end their life early would be too much to bear.

I recently had to put my dear old dog down. As I watched the vet push that syringe to inject the anaesthetic into my dog I kept thinking, “I’ve done this to her; I’m the one who okayed her death.” It felt so wrong even on a beloved pet. You question your motives: was she just a burden? Could she have had a comeback, etc.? To do that to a human would just add confusion to the grieving experience.

I believe the palliative care our baby girls received as excellent. We should not play God but keep our loved one’s pain free and comfortable. Taking care of a dying loved one can bring the absolute best of our humanity out in us, and we shouldn’t try and avoid the pain that leads to that.

I hope the End-of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020 will be defeated in Parliament. More funding is needed to improve palliative care and pain management training for medical staff.

Sam Males, Cygnet, TAS

My name is Raymond Bishop and I am a long-term resident of Rose Bay, Tasmania.

My beloved wife was diagnosed with bowel cancer with secondaries in her liver, the diagnosis was terminal with no determinate length of time to the end. She accepted what was to happen, her only fear was the possible pain that was to follow. She was told there was always pain control. Euthanasia was never a consideration, we both valued life and natural death. My wife wished to meet her maker with a clear conscience. It was not easy to lose someone you love after 54 years of marriage, let alone causing her death.

I am greatly concerned about the End-of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020 as it would be open to abuse despite the stated safe guards. Life is sacred. Did not Parliament pass a Bill abolishing capital punishment because it was inhuman?

If the Bill is passed the door will open a little further: where will it go from there? Perhaps ending life at a stated number of years with the excuse that it would stop old people clogging up the health system.

– Raymond Bishop, Rose Bay, TAS

I am concerned about the End-of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020 because many people go through temporary feelings of despondency and despair which can very easily be misunderstood as a wish to die. But when they are not in these lows, they would never wish to go through with euthanasia. Hence taking “Voluntary” out of VAD. 

We will never know what the last moments of life will bring for our family and loved ones even after many years of suffering. Peace and joy can and have been these last moments for my grandparents who passed away at the ages of 85, 91, 84 and more recently on the 1st of May 2020, 96. 

My grandmother, known to us as Babcia, who passed away in the recent months came to live with my family. She endured great suffering after she had fallen a few times and began to become more dependent on her family hence her coming to live with us. 

My family has always been a close one, but I became even more so to my grandmother during her time with us. My close relationship with her meant that her sufferings were extremely apparent to me. Babcia went through temporary bouts of despondency and despair but our extra efforts to comfort her during these times reminded her that she was an important part of our family, still having meaning and reasons to be alive. 

Because of University, I moved away from Tasmania to Sydney and would often call Babcia. A few hours before Babcia passed away, she was all smiles and laughter when I called her over Facetime. It was not only during these last few hours that she had been joyful but also the past few days. Babcia had just undergone surgery for a pacemaker, and I was informed by my aunt that Babcia had been very peaceful and happy despite being in hospital. 

I cannot stress enough, how beautiful this last moment with Babcia was, neither of us knowing that she would pass away only hours later. Death is not a personal issue; many people mourned the loss of Babcia. I can confirm that if her death had been premature and if she had taken the option of “Voluntary assisted dying” the mourning process for the rest of the family would not have felt whole. Seeing her be at peace and be genuinely happy meant that we knew she had overcome her sufferings; this was something I knew she had to do before passing away. 

Our last words to each other were. “kocham Cię” in Polish this means ‘I love you’.

AGAINST Euthanasia in Tasmania
— Zelia Matuszek, Neika, TAS

My name is Anne Ovari and I live down the Huon at Pelverata. I would like to share my personal experience of choosing life over death with my son, Joseph.

Joseph was born in 2001 in Canberra. At five days old he was rushed to hospital with all his organs beginning to shut down. After hours of tests the doctors discovered he had a very small left side of the heart. Joseph was transferred to Westmead Hospital in Sydney but they were unable to help him. The doctors there gave us the choice to take Joseph home to die or go ahead with surgery that could only be done at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. The doctors advised us that this was not corrective surgery but only palliative.

There was no way we were going to let our baby die. I had already lost a baby through stillbirth and was not prepared to lose another child. Why would we choose death if there was a chance of life?

After transferring down to Melbourne and after several operations and procedures Joseph was well enough to go home. He is now 18 years old and lives a pretty normal life except for having medication, medical check-ups, another surgery and being careful not to overexert himself.

Joseph’s surgeries have been palliative and we don’t know how long he will live but we have had the joy and blessing of Joseph living with us rather than the regret and guilt of letting him die, or hastening his death as an infant through assisted dying. The hardship and struggle was so worth it. I can’t imagine life without our son. Joseph’s life has not been a death sentence but has been a source of joy and hope for others.

I am very concerned about the End-of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020 as I feel the advances in Palliative Care will be undermined and cut short. I hope that instead of passing this Bill more funding will be put into improving Palliative Care here in Tasmania which means that people can be really cared for with respect, love, and compassion, which is so much more dignified than being killed or choosing assisted dying.

Finally, life should always be protected. Each of us as a human is a “someone” not a “something” that can be disposed of at any whim.

Baby Euthanasia
— Anne Ovari, Pelverata, TAS

I am writing to express support for the idea that we should try to eliminate the pain that arises from a terminal illness but not the patient. There are many reasons to be against assisted suicide, as it denies our common humanity.

Personally speaking, my own Babci (nickname for Grandma in Polish) wished many times for her pain to be over, and she suffered for many years, it was heart wrenching to see her suffer, and she did wish for a long time that her life would be ending sooner, then later.

But I share this now, the final conversation that we had together where she apologised for the times she wished her life over, she said to me –

“Zaccy, If I got my way back then, I would have died years before now, and would never have seen you grow, we would have never had all the beautiful moments together, I have laughed, cried and Lived, I take it back, it was worth all the pain and More so, because the time we spend together is priceless.”

I value the life of everyone in pain, personally speaking I might have opted to end my own life during my many health problems over the years. I urge people to give this issue more thought.

Every life is precious, every moment golden.

— Zac Golus, New Norfolk, TAS

My name is Rachel Bradley and I have lived in Margate, Tasmania for the last 15 years. I am a GP working in a skin cancer clinic and have worked in general practice and palliative care medicine in the past.

I am strongly opposed to the End-of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020 that is being proposed. As a doctor, I have witnessed many people’s final illnesses and death and this time can be very precious for individuals and their families, allowing time to process the fact that this is the end and in which families can make peace with each other and start grieving in a natural way.

The main concern of people who would like to legalise euthanasia seems to be worry about unbearable suffering. When I worked in a palliative care hospice, we had patients who had difficulty controlling symptoms, but with specialist palliative care input almost all of these people could be helped. I remember only one lady, with metastatic breast cancer, who had pain that was unresponsive to medication in the whole six months that I worked there and she herself didn’t feel that this made her life unbearable. I think that many people have little experience of death and dying, especially in today’s society and consequently have an exaggerated fear of what is likely to occur.

My other main concern is that the elderly, disabled and chronically ill are very vulnerable to feeling as if they are a burden and even though proponents of the bill insist that it would only be an option for someone if it was their decision, it is impossible to avoid these subtle pressures on people and the idea that you would be able to somehow legislate against coercion is laughable. People with life threatening or shortening illnesses should know that their doctors are their advocates and will call for proper investment into palliative care for their patients, as there might also be the temptation for governments and health services to push for VAD for elderly and “resource-hungry” patients for financial reasons. Once you allow euthanasia in principle, who is to define what counts as legitimate grounds for ending one’s life? Inevitably there will be expansion of the criteria as we have seen in all the other countries where euthanasia has been introduced, e.g. mental illness, disability, and in some cases ‘being tired of life’ is enough.

My own mother died at home of a fast-growing brain tumour and I was privileged to be able to help nurse her in her last few weeks of life which is a time I remember with huge gratitude and tenderness. This was made possible by the wonderful palliative care service that helped during this intense time and that is where we need to concentrate our efforts for the good of all Tasmanians.

— Dr. Rachel Bradley, Margate, TAS

As a UTAS medical student and future doctor I am very concerned about the push to legalise assisted suicide in Tasmania. I am being trained to save lives and ease patients’ suffering as they approach the end of their life. Intentionally assisting someone to end their own life prematurely, either directly or indirectly, is unconscionable to me.

Killing is not caring.

We must do better at providing support and care to those who are suffering, as well as providing adequate palliative care for those nearing the end of their life. Palliative care is shamefully underfunded in this state.

Appropriate palliative care that addresses the needs of people at their most vulnerable – when in pain, with a reduced quality of life, with a physical or cognitive disability – reduces requests for euthanasia. It is quicker, cheaper and simpler for the government to allow assisted dying than to fund adequate palliative care but we must not let utilitarian economics dictate which lives are worth living.

The clamour for assisted suicide and euthanasia will only grow louder if we do not do better at end-of-life care. 

If one part of society – such as the terminally ill – are given permission to request assisted suicide, there will always be those who argue that there should be equal access to all who want it. In every jurisdiction that has legalised euthanasia or assisted suicide there has been a push for further widening of the criteria for access; to the point where, in some places now, consent is not required and even children can be euthanised.

We must protect the most vulnerable in society from the abuses that inevitably happen when assisted suicide or euthanasia are legalised. Who is to judge that a person is not under pressure from their family, a mental health condition such as depression or a health system under financial strain?

Having assisted suicide as a treatment option will fundamentally change the relationship of trust between a patient and their doctor. I want to become competent in providing palliation and knowing when to treat and when to stop futile treatment. I do not want to become competent at killing.

— University of Tasmania Medical Student, Launceston

I sat with my mother as she died & it was not a painless or easy death. 

At the time I wished the process could have been sped up, for both of us.  How good would it be to be able to lessen suffering for our loved ones in their final hours? 

However, my mother was a person of faith & a great parent, who clung to the life that she had left.  Should I have had the right to quicken her death, when she was unconscious & unable to consent?  No. 

Sadly, there are many people who struggle with chronic health issues who reach the end of their ability to cope and therefore would seek assisted dying or euthanasia. What about support from family or friends and the medical profession? 

Sadly, we don’t all have ‘good families’ but we should be able to tap into a system of support to make our suffering less and be able to enjoy the life that we have left.  If assisted dying were legalised it would be abused. 

The majority of people to access this service, would be at the end of their ability to cope with their illness & would have been let down by a lack of mental health support, family support and the Public Health system.  Governments need to redirect their funds to provide a system of support, both medical and mental, as the decision to end your life should never be made because you have been unable to access support.

No to Euthanasia VAD in Tasmania
— Jan, New Town, TAS