A mainland-based lobby group has used Facebook ads to target 89,000 Tasmanians so far in a bid to sway public opinion against the voluntary assisted dying bill.
The ad described the bill as extreme and featured a picture of a child with the words ‘Do you know what Tasmanian politicians are voting on?’ and a reply ‘A bill that is already planning to allow kids to be euthanised’.
The End-of-Life Choices (VAD) Bill was tabled on August 27 in state parliament. However the ad featured a link to an article, which was published in February when the draft bill was available, and listed 10 things Tasmanians needed to know about it.
In other news:
A review, two years after the bill is passed, will look into extending VAD to people under 18.
However Independent Mersey MLC Mike Gaffney, who tabled the VAD bill, said if the review found it should be extended, it would only be available in exceptional circumstances as it was in other countries.
“The insistence in using the term assisted suicide is an obvious and deliberate attempt to create unnecessary community angst,” he said.
So far the anti-voluntary assisted dying ads have reached 89,000 Tasmanians, according to the lobby group’s director Branka van der Linden.
The group HOPE: Preventing Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide openly opposes the legalisation of VAD.
Its ad raised concerns on:
- The use of audio-video link between a patient and a medical professional as acceptable
- The time frame between an initial and final request for VAD can be four days. As people have to wait 48-hours before lodging their second and final request
Mr Gaffney said the two 48-hour time frames provided safeguards for people to consider VAD and each request would not be immediately processed.
“There are numerous inaccuracies and misinterpretations in the information presented … it is not correct,” he said on the group’s article.
Other concerns were medical professionals could mention VAD to patients, but it neglects that it’s a requirement that information on all end-of-life options is given.
The next was that mental illness did not prevent a person from applying. However, under the bill mental illness is not an eligible VAD condition and a person seeking VAD must have a decision-making capacity to understand the information and advice provided to them.
Another was the subjective nature of suffering intolerably. Although the bill clearly outlines it must be in relation to a medical condition with no reasonably available treatment likely to improve a person’s condition or lessen their suffering to an acceptable standard.
Mrs van der Linden did not disclose how much was spent on the ads, but said HOPE relied exclusively on donations.
“We are of course active in Tasmania at the moment with the debate around legalising euthanasia,” she said.
“All our advocacy is aimed towards increasing the awareness of both the actual laws being proposed and the inherent dangers of legalising euthanasia more broadly.”
What do you think? Send us a letter to the editor: