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Tasmania poised to legalize euthanasia, assisted suicide

March 5, 2021 CNA Daily News 0

Hobart, Australia, Mar 5, 2021 / 03:01 pm (CNA).- The Australian island of Tasmania is expected to become the third Australian state to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia, after a bill passed the lower house of the state’s parliament Thursday night.

The law would apply to people over 18 with an advanced, incurable, irreversible condition expected to cause death within six months, and patients can opt out of the decision at any time, the Australian Associated Press reported.

In a 16-6 vote March 4, the bill was passed by the House of Assembly. The governing Liberal Party members were given a conscience vote on the bill. All nine members of the opposition Australian Labor Party voted for the bill, as did both members of the Greens, who are crossbenchers.

Tasmanian lawmakers debated the bill, known as “End of Life Choices,” extensively this week. The state’s legislature has in the past rejected bills to legalize assisted suicide, most recently in 2013.

The bill will require approval from the parliament’s upper house before it can become law.

Assisted suicide and euthanasia have been legal in Victoria since June 2019, and in December 2019 Western Australia passed a law allowing the practices, which is expected to take effect in mid-2021.

Australia is currently considering legalizing euthanasia nationwide.

One of the Tasmanian bill’s provisions states that medical practitioners who object to assisted suicide and euthanasia must provide the patient seeking it with the contact information for the state’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Commission. 

Anther provision would allow assisted suicide to be prescribed via telemedicine— a provision hotly debated in Tasmania’s parliament.

The Tasmanian branch of the Australian Medical Association told ABC News last year that they do not support the bill, or assisted suicide in general. “The bill as it stands is really physician-assisted suicide and we don’t support that … we don’t agree that a doctor should ever do any action with a primary purpose of ending a person’s life,” AMA Tasmania President Helen McArdle told the ABC.

Live and Die Well, a Tasmanian group that advocates for palliative care rather than assisted suicide, has argued against the bill on the grounds that it does not provide enough safeguards for the vulnerable.

New South Wales rejected such a bill in 2017, as did the national parliament in 2016.

The Northern Territory legalized assisted suicide in 1995, but the Australian parliament overturned the law two years later.

Catholic bishops in Australia have repeatedly written in support of palliative care as an alternative to assisted suicide and euthaniasia.

The state of Victoria reported more than ten times the anticipated number of deaths from assisted suicide and euthanasia in its first legal year.

Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board reported 124 deaths by assisted suicide and euthanasia since June 19, 2019, when the legalization of the precedure took effect, The Catholic Weekly reported. There were a total of 231 permits issued for the procedure that year. The state’s premier had publicly predicted only “a dozen” deaths by assisted suicide in the first year.

Last month, an Australian university found that the country has less than half the number of palliative care physicians needed to care for terminally-ill patients.

A study published by Australian Catholic University’s PM Glynn Institute revealed that the country only has 0.9 palliative care doctors per every 100,000 people. According to the ACU, health industry standards state there should be at least two doctors for this population.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s September 2020 letter Samaritanus bonus reaffirmed the Church’s perennial teaching on the sinfulness of euthanasia and assisted suicide, and recalled the obligation of Catholics to accompany the sick and dying through prayer, physical presence, and the sacraments.

Samaritanus bonus also addressed the pastoral care of Catholics who request euthanasia or assisted suicide, explaining that a priest and others should avoid any active or passive gesture which might signal approval for the action, including remaining until the act is performed.


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Burmese cardinal: ‘Innocent blood may not be spilt on this land’

March 2, 2021 CNA Daily News 0

CNA Staff, Mar 2, 2021 / 05:15 am (CNA).- Preaching on the deadliest day of protests since Burma’s military coup, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo said on Sunday that “innocent blood” must not be shed in the country. 

In a Feb. 28 homily, the archbishop of Yangon lamented that the streets of Myanmar, as the country is officially known, had seen “so much of pain, suffering, and resistance” since the coup on Feb. 1.

“Slowly hatred seemed to infiltrate the peaceful marches. We pray that no violence happens. Innocent blood may not be spilt on this land,” the cardinal said. 

“We are all sons and daughters of the same land, same mother Myanmar and we need to exercise patience and tolerance.”

Bo was speaking on the day that clashes between priests and protesters left at least 18 people dead and more than 30 wounded, according to the UN Human Rights Office.

The UN said that the deaths reportedly resulted from live ammunition fired into crowds in Yangon, Dawei, Mandalay, Myeik, Bago, and Pokokku. 

Bo is the first cardinal in the history of Burma, a country with a population of 54 million people bordering China, Laos, Thailand, Bangladesh, and India.

Since his appointment as Archbishop of Yangon, the former capital city, in 2003, he has emerged as a leading advocate for democracy in the country.

In his homily on the Second Sunday of Lent, he called for the transformation of his homeland, focusing on the Gospel reading of the day, which told the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration. 

He said: “As Christians, our first duty is to bring peace. Hatred has no place in Christ. No hatred wins anything. For the last one month, we have pleaded with everyone: Peace is the only way; peace is possible.”

“Pope Francis has called for resolution of all differences through dialogue. Those who call for confrontation do not wish good for this nation.” 

He continued: “Social media, especially Facebook, is a virtual hell where hatred rules supreme; good people become violent in that virtual hell, destroying others. Humanity is disfigured in Facebook.” 

“On this day when we contemplate transfiguration, we need to be extremely cautious about virtual reality and our mental health. Transfiguration was a virtual reality. It deeply impacted the disciples who were participants in it. They went back to announce the Good News.”

“On this day we also pray for the transfiguration of this nation. For the last 70 years [since Burma’s independence from Britain in 1948], we are looking for the grace of transfiguration of this nation. Like Jesus, leaders can make supreme sacrifices, like Moses, our leaders can lead this nation to peace and prosperity.” 

“Like Elijah, our nation can proclaim a new Kingdom of hope ruled by great men of peace and wisdom. This remains a dream, but like disciples we are not only to be engulfed by the magnificence of the dream, we need to return to hard life of creating hope and peace. Let it start in each one of our hearts.”

Bo,  who is also president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences,  described the coup as “shocking” in an outspoken statement issued after the military detained Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s elected civilian leader, and Burma’s President Win Myint.

The UN reports that more than 1,000 people have been arbitrarily arrested and detained in the last month, with some remaining unaccounted for.

Catholic nuns have reportedly taken part in protests held across the country.


In Myanmar, a nun asking the police not to hurt the people

— Myanmar Burma (@MyanmarBurma7) February 28, 2021


The Vatican newspaper published an article on March 1 praising the actions of a nun who was photographed kneeling before a line of advancing police officers in Myitkyina, the capital of Burma’s northern Kachin State.

L’Osservatore Romano said that Sister Ann Nu Thawng, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis Xavier, ran out into the street on Feb. 28 as police fired tear gas at protesters.

“On her knees, she raised her hands to God and begged: ‘Don’t shoot, don’t kill innocents. If you want, hit me,’” the newspaper reported, adding that the police halted their advance.

Concluding his homily on Sunday, Bo said: “Let our present suffering be a sign that this nation is in the throes of a new birth. Let all of us enter into a mindset of reconciliation and dialogue. A new nation is possible, let it be born through Love.” 

“Like the disciples, let us get down from our own mountains of virtual reality and come down and meet one another as brothers and sisters.”

“Let wars and conflicts become history. Let this nation be transfigured. Let a new nation be born!”