HOPE 2015 International Symposium

Craig Wallace, convenor of Lives Worth Living raises concerns at Senate hearings.

Craig WallaceCraig Wallace, convenor of Lives Worth Living raises concerns at Senate hearings.

Craig Wallace gave evidence before an Australian Senate Committee hearing on euthanasia on behalf of Lives Worth Living - a network of people living with disability and opposing euthanasia.

He told the October hearing in Canberra that, "I think it is true to say the centre of gravity on this issue is shifting in our community and it is shifting towards increasing doubts and concerns about a presumption that our lives aren’t worth living." 

craig went on to comment on the bill beofre the committee. In many significant respects, Craig's concerns are common to all euthanasia and assisted suicide laws:

"I want to say that I have an intrinsic sympathy with the idea that our bodies are our estate and if you had something like terminal bowel cancer that you might want to die.

In many ways I think that kind of condition is the diagnostic face of euthanasia.

In a world with total empathy and where we all understood what we meant all of the time – I might support voluntary suicide.

But we don’t live in a world of clarity, so my concerns are about definitions of words like ‘voluntary’ and ‘unacceptable’ and how they will be interpreted by mortals.

And many of us in the disability community will happily regale you with stories that Doctors are mortal whether you have one or two or three of them.

There is nothing like being told that you were going to be dead years ago or never able to work to focus your mind on the subjective nature of medical opinion.

There is not some kind of clear dividing line between disability, illness and a medical condition which means that you can neatly quarantine the effect of the Bill to one set of people – unless you were to actually name the illnesses involved.

The Bill defines terminal illness as one which, in reasonable medical judgement will, in the normal course, without the application of extraordinary measures or of treatment unacceptable to the person, result in the death of the person.

It also mandates that a person needs to experience pain, suffering, distress or indignity to an extent unacceptable to the person.

I am not satisfied that this would not apply to the people I represent on a reasonable reading.

For instance, I have known many people who have incurred high level spinal injuries and I would be concerned about how this kind of disability might be viewed within the Bill.

When does an illness become terminal? – Most medical practitioners would say that a disability like this shortens the lifespan. There is no clearly defined boundary between a shortened life span and a terminal illness."

Craig is also President of the national peak disability advocacy body, People With Disability Australia and is a regular commentator in the media.

Craig will be chairing a session at #HOPE2015 along with other international and local speakers.

Don't miss out! Join us at #HOPE2015 by booking now through the Symposium website.

#HOPE2015 Partners

  • Euthanasia Free New Zealand
  • Lives Worth Living
  • EPC International
  • Doctors Opposed to Euthanasia