Australia Ethics Politics

Euthanasia and The Evangel – Belgrave Heights Convention


This is the second seminar from the Belgrave Heights Convention – Euthanasia and the Evangel…I think this will be the main line of attack for progressives this coming year.  There were loads of questions.


Yesterdays is here – Communicating the Gospel to Modern Pagans – Lessons from Pascal – Belgrave Heights Christian Convention

The book I refer to is Understanding Suicide and Euthanasia by Eryl Davies.

Debates Don’t Change Anything? – Euthanasia Debate Abertay University – 7th March 2016



  1. It never ceases to amaze me that so many religious believers assume a moral and ethical perspective based on their dedication and deep thought to religious doctrine to decide for others what rights they may have and what decisions they may make in areas completely and utterly divorced from having any practical expertise and or deep knowledge. And they do so presuming their motives make their pronouncements righteous rather than unbounded, unbridled, and unmitigated hubris.

    Nowhere is this unctuous meddling more pronounced than in the world of medical care, directly causing profound human suffering and a loss of dignity to honour these folk’s idea of divine intention. The examples range from Mother Teresa gaining millions of dollars but dispensing aspirin to end stage cancer patients to mothers dying to keep a fetal heart beating. And it always involves intentionally taking away individual responsibility while impeding in all ways possible the legal right to implement personal choice.

    What is ironic is that such interference is a unending demonstration of religious belief used to reduce people from autonomous moral agents to be a kind of religious automaton… yet claiming such moral and ethical capitulation to follow some religious ideology elevates a person morally and ethically above those who take full responsibility on to themselves! And it is from above that the believer who has given away their own moral autonomy to a religious ideology who then presumes a position of moral and ethical superiority to engage in such issues as euthanasia and women’s reproductive rights!

    1. What a fascinating and enlightening post! Your dogmatism and adherence to your own personal beliefs is clear. The lack of evidence and reason you offer even clearer. You demonise and stigmatise those you disagree with and in the name of tolerance you insist that we must all follow your ideology. Then you have the nerve to complain that others seek to influence according to their beliefs. You complain about hubris whilst displaying it. You claim to have such superiority that anyone who disagrees with you is so self-evidently wrong that you don’t need to offer any evidence for your fundamentalist position. But I will admit to one thing – yes we as Christians are guilty of believing that it is wrong to kill other human beings, wrong to have slaves, wrong to be racist – because we are all made in the image of God and should respect not only that image (and therefore every human being) but follow the Maker’s instructions. As is clear from your post you have no such basis for your beliefs – just your own personal autonomy. Yet you insist that we must all follow your ideology. Hubris? You are a perfect illustration of it. But one day you will answer to your Maker for your attempt to play god.

      1. As a classical liberal, my only ideology is a profound respect for equality rights and individual freedom recognized in and enforced by law . After all, everyone’s political vote depends on exactly this, the legal recognition of this individual consent. Consent to be legitimate must originate from a position of authority, and in our liberal democracies this means the legal recognition of an individual’s legal autonomy. Each of us having reached the age of majority and in sound mind are responsible legally for our individual actions. (Religious believers often give this consent away in order to become a ‘respectful’ follower.)

        So for you to claim I say what I say based on some imported ideology of dogmatism and hubris of such a follower makes no sense. This ideology I do support – what you describe as ‘fundamentalist, which also makes no sense – is the recognition of legal autonomy each of exercises to be responsible moral agents, like the freedom of expression to make this individual comment. That’s not dogma. That’s not doctrine. And couching these values in such terms demonstrates either a lack of knowledge or a ideological framing that seeks to make such values equivalent to their antithesis, namely, the following of religious belief by giving away moral autonomy and becoming a follower of someone else’s moral rules. No thanks.

        As for my experience regarding the issue of euthanasia, my spouse is the coordinator of community hospice care for a population of about 600,000. In fact, I am very well educated on all aspects and issues practical and philosophical regarding both hospice and palliative care, and certainly well informed of all the legal ramifications that have evolved over the past 25 years resulting in the legally mandated MAID legislation (Medical Assistance In Dying) here in Canada. In fact, I sincerely doubt you could find a better informed person than I am, with the exception of my spouse.

        I do not stigmatize anyone with anything other than criticizing in those people an apparent lack of facts, lack of understanding, and a lack of practical knowledge regarding this issue of euthanasia. I am well aware of the suffering that dying often entails not just for the person going through the end of life, those who wish to end their lives, but for families and those who then suffer from bereavement that follows. That’s why I can say with absolute certainty that MAID is long overdue if and only if one is actually concerned with the actual suffering, the actual bereavement, and the actual compassionate care for those who wish to end their lives with dignity. Those who espouse mandating and imposing hard rules against such actions are okay with suffering for the sake of some godly belief. These are the people who are willing – for whatever reason – to deny to others this basic autonomous choice, this informed consent we legally recognize in every other area of human behaviour… except, of course, where religious belief has trumped individual rights and freedoms and have coopted this consent in order to deny it. And that area tends to be related to women’s issues. Coincidence? I think not.

        The religious tend to frame this autonomous choice as immoral, in as negative a way as possible, in a way that reveals a slippery ethical slope to holocaust kind of mass killing. This is the advertising campaign. What isn’t advertised is what’s true, the intentional end to insufferable living… not by public policy but by informed individual choice. This individual choice is what is attacked as immoral and it is the common thread wherever authoritarian rule attempts to gain power. The loss of legal autonomy is EXACTLY what is needed for an implementation of incalculable human suffering through brute polices. And that’s what denying this autonomy in end of life issues produces. And there is massive evidence for this, enough to sway both the Supreme Court of Canada, the Canadian governments of all political stripes, and the Canadian Medical Association to be full partners in establishing MAID. Does that make everyone who disagrees with your demand to impose your anti-liberal values on everyone and give people the legal respect to decide for themselves that everyone else but you are ‘playing God’?

      2. Again a fascinating and revealing reply….again no evidence or facts – just your own opinions – largely about yourself and how right you are. Autonomy does not mean that I have the right to harm another human being – which is why abortion and killing the elderly are wrong. I note in your comments on euthanasia that you have made no interaction with the arguments – just repeated your own prejudices. I think that using the dysfunctional Canadian government (and Supreme Court) as examples to be copied just shows the extent of your prejudices. I don’t think that killing people – whether the elderly or babies is ‘liberal’. It has much more in common with fascism than liberality.

      3. I think we both know, DR, that no amount of evidence about health and medical care regarding end of life conditions in the aggregate (which is how this information is tabulated and not just testimonials) will sway you at all when you frame this issue as ‘killing people’. As long as many people hold to this frame, I know from those who work closest with the dying that suffering is augmented by such a brute and blunt and fossilized position. So nothing I can offer will satisfy your demand for ‘evidence’ because you’ve already classified any such evidence as ‘prejudice’ and therefore worthless. This framing renders all actual information and facts about real people in real life suffering real harm as irrelevant. That’s not a position of strength but actual ‘prejudice’ upon which to base one’s opinion that demands choice be taken away from real people. But hey, you’ll find out…
        I did want to mention something I think is quite interesting because statistics of all kinds are kept on hospice and palliative care because of funding requirements and evidence for effect. And so I thought this one aspect needed wider exposure.

        As I’ve mentioned previously, one of the areas addressed by hospice care in the community is the bereavement component and coming up with policies and procedures and funding for effectively addressing this significant mental health issue. Grief itself is categorized by metrics so as to offer the right kind of support for a particular situation and this is where a rather startling correlation has emerged. The higher the degree of religiosity, there is a robust correlation with what is called ‘complex’ grief. This is the kind of grief that keeps on giving, keeps on directly interfering with regaining all kinds of improvements in mental health and relationships and outlook on life following the grief process.

        It is a very surprising correlation – I’m not suggesting causation, although now that detailed stats are being kept over time it wouldn’t surprise me to find a causal component – because it is a widespread assumption that religious belief helps with the grieving process. This finding stands in stark contrast to that assumption… because it should be the other way around if the assumption were true. For whatever reasons there may be, the more religious a person is who goes through this grieving process, the likelihood for complex grief is significantly higher in this population, and so additional funding and support is allocated ahead of time based on this growing evidence when it is known by hospice staff that survivors are deeply religious. Just to be clear, this correlation stays constant across all religious denominations, which I think is quite interesting and worth your consideration even if you disregard everything else in contrast to your opinion by your intentionally binary framing of a very complex issue.

      4. Again it is fascinating how you manage to espouse such a strong opinion – condemning everyone who does not agree with you – and yet, despite repeated requests offer no facts. Just anecdotes and your own fundamentalist certainties.

        I too work with the dying. I also know many people who do. All the projections you make about others just rebound on to you. As for binary?! Anyway when you are ready to engage with what is said in the article I will be happy to post more of your comments..otherwise I suggest you leave your speculations and avoidance to your own blog!

  2. Happy New Year, David,
    (and many o’ them).
    It must be a wonder to ideologically-driven promoters of individual rights that a society so accepting of women’s reproductive rights/abortion is still resistant to the idea of euthanasia. After all — so the argument goes — we are dealing here with a tiny number of people who wish to have their lives ended for them at a point they’ve previously imagined would be appropriate. It remains the best pragmatic argument against euthanasia that abortions have taken place in far-larger numbers than those who made abortion legal ever foresaw; the same would be the case with euthanasia but — as with abortion — the decision to teminate life will not lie with the individual who is killed.
    With the rise of the environmentalist protest movements, the focus may have shifted from individual rights to generational rights but that has not stopped the dominoes from pushing one another over. Already we have the oxymoronic notion of saving the planet for the next generation by just not having a next generation (e.g. Birthstrike, etc.). We also have lots of evidence that trying to combat overpopulation by restricting births allowed also leads to ageing populations.
    If the idealogues have their way then a few individuals will have their wish to have what they like to think of as a ‘good death’ fulfilled but the exercise of individual right will be swamped by the selfish use of the law to justify getting rid of unwanted relatives and patients. Moreover, as soon as euthanasia is seen as the only remedy for ageing population then individual right will be swallowed up by pragmatic solution.
    Or maybe we’ll wake up.

    1. Your argument works, John, if abortion is framed only as a form of birth control and measured by this as a moral implication that requires control and enforcement. But the fact of the matter is that abortion is a medical issue foremost and almost always a birth control measure only when all other options to prevent fertilization are removed. This is why statistically abortion as a form of birth control almost evaporates when effective measures to prevent fertilization are easily available to women and they have the power to choose. The evidence for this is overwhelming. Where controls are strictest and women’s autonomy most suppressed, abortion rates are the highest. The reverse is also true.

      Abortion as a medical procedure alone for the health and welfare of the mother is a necessary component of women’s reproductive healthcare. Again, the evidence for this is overwhelming. So the presentation of abortion as moral issue to justify religious interference and authoritarian rule over women is actually a means demonstrated daily by real women in real life who cannot gain access to abortion services to cause a vast amount of very real harm and inflict vast amount of unnecessary but very real suffering. This suffering and harm is the real result of religious interference in the delivery of medicine for women under the guise of righteous activism.

      Now, the impact of unfettered human population growth on the health of the planet is also quite real. The planet’s resources used by people is finite because it’s a closed system. We can rob Peter to pay Paul, so to speak, to adjust resources now for a growing population but this flexibility too is finite. You will notice that every country that endorses equality law and empowers women to choose their reproduction rates achieves replacement or slight decline in population over two generations. This achieves room for infrastructure development to improve quality of life in all kinds of ways for a stable population that cannot be achieved by a population suffering from exponential growth. We see this all the time and it is exacerbated by rural to urban migration where just providing the most basic services of water and waste disposal cannot be achieved. Energy produced by carbon is the fundamental problem driving rapid climate change (which directly reduces our ability to meet growing demand of basic components for human survival) and so any growing population that uses carbon adds to this problem. A stable population is a very early step in aiding the reduction of carbon use and replacing it with renewables without causing massive disruption to a significant portion of the world’s population. The shift also improves economic output and increases equity.

      The bottom line here is that empowering women through equality laws and respecting personal autonomy for each and every human on the planet is the most important and vital ingredient to addressing so many problems that cause so much unnecessary suffering throughout the world. This is actually the number one goal by climate groups that allows us as a species to not just survive but thrive and, for the religious, should be framed as a necessary step to honoring the idea that humanity as a whole healthy, wealthy, and peaceful is an expression of the divine.

  3. I’m surprised to hear that you associate euthanasia with progressive politics? Why makes you consider this a particularly progressive issue and which countries do you see this happening in?

    As far as I am aware, it’s not really a matter of current discussion at all here in the US. The closest we have got to it is certain public figures arguing we should not be shutting down the economy just to protect the elderly who will die soon anyway…and those have *all* been Republican politicians.

    I think the next couple of years are going to be focused on vaccinations and then rebuilding. Certainly progressives are looking to roll back the roll back of Obama era policies, especially with regards to the environment. I have also heard Republicans trying to get out the vote by arguing that Democrats will try to pass the equality act and that this will take away religious freedom. I haven’t seen much from the Democrats on this, but I suspect it would probably pass in the unlikely event they win the senate.

    1. Progressives themselves state it is one of their issues – If you listened to the seminar you are commenting on you will hear which countries this applies to – last year Australia, New Zealand, Spain etc. And yes it is an issue in the US…time to open our eyes!

  4. Progressive countries have something in common with hard left Socialist countries , viz. whenever you see a passport with “Peoples Republic of ” on it you may be assured that the country’s people have absolutely no say in their nations’ affairs.

    Ditto, Progressives in relation to human progress.

  5. In Argentina , abortion was recently legalized.

    Could anyone imagine females in their right minds holding up banners bearing the words , ” We demand an empty cradle?”

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