HEATHCOTE is no different to the rest of the country when it comes to the polarising debate surrounding voluntary euthanasia.
There are camps for and against but perhaps the largest number of people is the undecided, still understanding and coming to terms with how they feel.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews seems determined to move the issue from the realm of debate to a conscience vote in the state parliament.
Mr Andrews reignited the controversy when he said his government would introduce legislation into the parliament to legalise voluntary euthanasia for Victoria’s terminally ill.
He revealed he had received and accepted 66 recommendations from a ministerial advisory panel of clinical, legal, consumer, health and palliative care experts.
The panel was established to help draft a “safe and compassionate” legislative framework for the bill.
The bill will recommend adults with decision-making capacity, suffering from a serious and incurable condition and who are at the end of their lives be provided assistance to die in certain circumstances.
Federal Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters said she supported the state government’s proposal on the controversial issue.
“Issues of this nature are always very controversial. No two cases are the same and it becomes a very personal family decision,” she said.
“My grandfather had a very slow and painful death. This was a horrible time for my family, and if there was a safe alternative available for my grandfather to pass away on his terms without experiencing the pain he suffered, he may have taken that option.
“This issue hits on many personal levels for many families across the country.
“The need for the debate to be respectful on all sides is crucial, so those in extreme pain and suffering can pass away with dignity and respect.”
Member for Euroa Steph Ryan is yet to commit to a decision on the issue. A spokesperson said Ms Ryan wished to further analyse the legislation and would continue to seek feedback from her constituents.
Heathcote’s Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church father Peter Ferwerda said the church was opposed to the proposed legislation.
“God alone has the right to decide on life and death,” he said
“We believe people can die in dignity with adequate palliative care services. The deliberate taking of life is against the law of God – particularly in cases of assisted suicide.”
Fr Ferwerda said there have been reports of abuse and failure to guarantee the “so-called” safeguards where these laws have been passed in other countries.
“Human judgement in these areas can be dangerous. For example, in cases of inheritance where the person is made to feel they are a burden on their family or on society,” he said.
“Having been a doctor for 30 years before I became a priest, I feel this legislation would erode the confidence in a doctor-patient relationship.
“People may feel afraid to consult their doctor in cases of terminal illness for fear they may be made to feel they are better off dead.”
St John’s Anglican Church and Heathcote Health both said they were yet to reach a decision and would continue to review the legislation.