Media and Communications Office
Protesters took to the steps of Victoria’s Parliament at midday yesterday to voice their concerns of the State Government’s proposed legislation on assisted suicide.
Led by disability activist, Samantha Connor, the demonstrators oppose the government’s forthcoming ‘Voluntary Assisted Dying’ bill, believing it bypasses the failures in care and services provided to disabled people to support them in living an ordinary life.
The protesters played a disability and assisted suicide version of ‘Cards Against Humanity’ – a card game where bad-mannered questions are paired with crude answers – aimed at highlighting the inappropriateness of the government’s planned legislation.
The protest was followed by an hour-long parliamentary briefing with several Labor MP’s, including Deputy Premier, James Merlino and the Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing, Martin Foley.
Connor told the briefing she hoped the card game would make it clear that disability and assisted suicide were ill-suited and that disability was not being adequately considered.
Prior to the discussion inside Parliament, Jax Jacki Brown said such legislation would endanger disabled people and emphasised the threat it posed to young people.
'We can’t have assisted dying when we don’t have the resources to live and live well,’ she said.
‘I’m really concerned, particularly for young people with disabilities who may be going through a difficult time … going through crisis’ and mental health issues and what it means for them and their families when they’re going through this kind of stuff, yet they can apply to die on the basis of their impairment.’
Brown was also alarmed that the legislation could allow
people who had recently acquired a disability to utilise assisted suicide
before being able to come to terms with the new circumstances of their lives.
‘I’m concerned for people with (newly) acquired disabilities going through a time of grief and loss as they adjust to their new bodies or minds.’
‘People (could be) going through an acute depressive phase but may come out of it and find ways of living with their new bodies and minds and have a fulfilled life,’ she added.
In an 8 June YouTube video
, British actress and disability advocate, Liz Carr, implored Victorian’s to consider the implications of physician assisted suicide, saying the topic was ‘a scary thing for disabled people.’
‘There is such a fine line between terminal illness and disability, both medically and in public perception, that we become one and the same.’
‘That means that assisted suicide is seen by the public, by the medical profession as a compassionate, rational solution to the problems of anyone who is ill and disabled,’ said Carr.
As assisted suicide continues to be debated, the concerns of the disabled community must be addressed by the State Government before an eventual conclusion that the legislation is both dangerous and inappropriate.