DWD ACT Inc. Submission to the human Rights Commission on the Right to Life and the Right to practice one’s beliefs

Dying With Dignity has made a submission to the ACT Human Rights commission regarding our human rights and an elective death.

Dying with Dignity ACT Inc. asserts that its members are subject to the following breaches of human rights law and requests the Human Rights Commission to make a ruling on its assertions.

 Human Right: Every person has the right to life and has the right not to be arbitrarily deprived of life.

 From this law on the right of every person to life, we conclude;

  1. The responsibility for the right to life ultimately lies with every person. Every person has the right to provide all things necessary for the preservation of life including the right to defend her or himself from someone who might want to arbitrarily deprive her or him of life. The decriminalization of suicide in Section 16 of the Crimes Act shows that the right of the person to choose his own death is recognized in law if not accepted in practice. The fact that over 30 people whose health we don’t know about elect to die in the ACT each year despite all attempts to prevent them from doing so argues strongly that the people who make this choice perceive themselves as responsible for their right to life. The decriminalization of abortion gives the right to every woman to make a life/death choice about the right to life of her foetus whether it is healthy or not. Ultimately if a person approaches another person with the intention of murdering that person it is the person who has to deal or not deal with the situation.
  2. The right to life is not just the right to the life of the body. Every person’s life is the whole trajectory of life from birth to death and includes everything that occurs in between those two states as well as the person’s character, beliefs, ideals, relationships etc. Death is integral to the life of any person. No person has a life that does not include death.
  3. The word ‘arbitrary’ has two meanings and we believe that both meanings apply in interpreting this right. It means (1) capricious, whimsical, random, chance, unpredictable, casual, wanton, unmotivated, motiveless, unreasoned, unsupported, irrational, illogical, groundless, unjustified. (2) autocratic, dictatorial, despotic, tyrannical, authoritarian, absolute, uncontrolled, unlimited, unrestrained.
  4. Nature arbitrarily (Def. 1) deprives a person of life at the time of nature’s choice. Nature is the most arbitrary depriver of life. No person can predict the whims of nature to deprive her/him of life. No person knows exactly what disease or timing nature will use to bring about death. Nature is also arbitrary (Def. 2) in that it is absolute and we have limited powers to resist it. Eventually it forces us to die. Laws that require the person to die by disease make the person subject to the arbitrary forces of nature to deprive the person of life. The only death that is non-arbitrary i.e. reasoned and non-depriving is a non-punitive, non-violent death that is accepted and freely chosen by the person when the person decides that it is the right time for the person to die; i.e. end their own life trajectory.
  5. The State (representing every person) can defend every person from being deprived of life by making it illegal to do so and by punishing people who deprive any person of life. But despite any and all statements about the protection of life and the State’s assumed duty to protect it, the State can (Def. 2) arbitrarily claim or arrogate the sovereign power to argue to deprive any person of life and can exercise this sovereign power actually or potentially to deprive a person of life.
  6. Death by disease is the means used by the state to test that arbitrary (Def. 1) and (Def. 2) deprivation of life by others has not occurred. All death is treated as suspicious unless it has been confirmed as having occurred by disease. All people around the dead person are potential deprivers unless this confirmation has occurred. However the State cannot guarantee the person the right to life (i.e. defence and protection from others) and in general can only act after a death has occurred to apprehend and punish the life depriver.
  7. In asserting that persons must die by disease the State is acting arbitrarily (Def. 1 and Def. 2) because; a) people could die peacefully at a time they elect by medication if they were allowed to and that would not involve the arbitrary deprivation of life by any means. b) it is potentially depriving the person of his ability to defend his right to life and increasing the likelihood that the person will be deprived of life by others. c) The State is arbitrarily (Def. 2) coercing the person to be subject to the arbitrary (Def. 1 and 2) forces of nature to deprive the person of life. d) The State arbitrarily (Def. 2) coerces those who do not want to die by disease and who want to die of their own volition to deprive themselves of life by arbitrary (Def. 1) means. All of this is contrary to this human rights law.
  8. Only the person can act to prevent the deprivation of life by others at the time it might be occurring or defend herself from a depriver at the time of the deprivation. The State coercively exploits any illness that has occurred naturally so that the person cannot defend herself. Doctors, hospitals, family members or the State have complete access to the life of the person and can deprive her of it either through legal or illegal means.
  9. Given that the State, acting for the person, requires the person by law to die by disease in order to demonstrate that the person has not been deprived of life by some other person, the State is putting the person into the position where the only way the person (who according to human rights law is the prime agent in assuring the right to life) can be completely sure when dying that s/he will not be deprived of life by doctors, hospitals, family members or the State, is to have control over death. This would mean that the person should be well enough to make a reasoned, non-random, decision free from the dictates of others and other arbitrary factors about when and how to die by medication the person can take by him or herself in a safe environment when ready. In subjecting the person to the arbitrary forces of nature (timing, nature of disease, irrevocable power to deprive the person of life) to deprive the person of life the State itself, is breaching this human rights law.
  10. For all the reasons outlined above no State has the right to enact laws which prevent the person from exercising her/his right to life and the right not to be arbitrarily deprived of life. Any State that does is in breach of this human rights law.

Dying with Dignity ACT Inc. asserts that the only way every person can be sure that s/he will have the right to life and not be arbitrarily deprived of life at the end of life by any means including nature, is to have full control over her/his death as described in points 4 and 9. Dying with Dignity ACT Inc. believes that ACT law and Federal Government law is in breach of human rights law on the right to life and the right not to be arbitrarily deprived of life and therefore requests that the ACT government change its laws to assure this human right is available to all members of Dying with Dignity ACT Inc. and requests it to challenge the Federal ACT Self Government Act which encroaches on this right of its citizens who are protected by the ACT Human Rights Act.

Human right: Freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief

1 Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right includes-

a)      The freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his or her choice; and

b)      The freedom to demonstrate his or her religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching, either individually or as art of a community and whether in public or private.

2. No-one may be coerced in a way that would limit his or her freedom to have or adopt a religion or belief in worship, observance, practice or teaching.

Following below are the aims of Dying with Dignity ACT Inc. This is a statement of the beliefs of the association which has been incorporated in the ACT. We believe that our freedom to practice our beliefs at the end of life or at any time we wish to end our lives are severely limited by the law and that coercion (we are required to die of disease, hang, gas or perform other violent acts to end our lives) is the preferred practice of death of the ACT Government and it therefore denies us access to peaceful, life ending drugs that would allow us to practice the death we believe we should have.

 Dying with Dignity ACT Inc. believes that ACT law is in breach of human rights law on the freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief and requests that the law be changed to assure this human right is available to all members of Dying with Dignity ACT Inc.

 Human right: Freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief

1 Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right includes-

c)      The freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his or her choice; and

d)      The freedom to demonstrate his or her religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching, either individually or as art of a community and whether in public or private.

2. No-one may be coerced in a way that would limit his or her freedom to have or adopt a religion or belief in worship, observance, practice or teaching.

 Following below are the aims of Dying with Dignity ACT Inc. This is a statement of the beliefs of the association which has been incorporated in the ACT. We believe that our freedom to practice our beliefs at the end of life or at any time we wish to end our lives are severely limited by the law and that coercion (We are required to die of disease, hang, gas or perform other violent acts to end our lives.) is the preferred practice of death of the ACT Government and it therefore denies us access to peaceful, life ending drugs that would allow us to practice the death we believe we should have.

 Dying with Dignity ACT Inc. believes that ACT law is in breach of human rights law on the freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief and requests that the law be changed to assure this human right is available to all members of Dying with Dignity ACT Inc.

CONSTITUTION

DYING WITH DIGNITY (ACT) INC.

  1. NAME

            The name of the association is “Dying with Dignity (ACT) Incorporated”, referred to        hereafter as “the Society”.

  1. AIMS

Preamble

We assert that our bodies belong to us as individuals and that we have the right to determine the circumstances of our dying & death as we have in the rest of our lives. We expect our community to support our wishes and provide the facilities required to enable us to have the death of our choice.

Aims

  1. To work with the ACT community to create the legal environment in which all adult ACT & region residents can die with dignity at a time and place of their choice with the degree of assistance that they determine is appropriate.
  2. To promote the concept of an elective death as an alternative to concepts of suicide or voluntary euthanasia and to encourage support for elective death on Medicare.
  3. To promote the idea that those who want to shorten their lives should be able to have a peaceful death.
  4. To encourage the use of medication that would provide people with a peaceful, pain free, quick death.
  5. To educate the community about the role and work of medical professionals & carers for the dying and to work for their legal protection if they assist a person who has made a reasoned choice to die.
  6. To encourage & educate people about dying and death so that they will be fully informed about what will happen to them when they die and to encourage participation in courses which allow people to celebrate their lives, to grieve the loss of their lives and to think positively about death.
  7. To support and encourage other like-minded organizations in Australia and internationally to create a legal environment in which people can die with dignity at a time and place of their choice with the degree of assistance that they determine is appropriate.
  8. To promote the addition of a right in Human Rights law to a peaceful, pain free, quick death at the time and place of the individual’s choice with the degree of assistance that s/he determines is appropriate.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

One Comment:

  1. The above declaration rightly concentrates on the right to self-decision about life and death of an individual. The current attempts to come to a Law of Euthanasia in Australia, more or less on the model of the Law to End Life in the Netherlands (note the Law in the Netherlands is not a Law of Euthanasia, which would mean the right to a good death, but is entirely directed at the right to request an end-of-life by an individual, which is entirely decided by medical practioners and can thus be denied (ie. there is no right to self-decision of the individual). It is thus completely weighted towards the right to request to die, but not towards having the right to have that wish acknowledged or acted upon. There is therefore no right to be provided with the means to die at the time of one’s choosing. In the Netherlands (and as far as I know in other countries where such a law is proposed or already passed) the law is thus contrary to the demand of DwD in the ACT. It allows the request to die, but does not acknowledge the right to be assisted to die nor to be provided with the means to die a good death with the necessary means.
    The question then is whether the right to life as a Human Right should be extended to include that there is a Human Right to decide that this life can also be ended when the individual decides to die other than by means which would not mean a good death, eu-thanatos, but by means of a horrible death by hanging, drowning etc.etc. since suicide or attempts to suicide are no longer criminal.
    This extension should not just be the right of individuals who are members of an organisation like DwD but should be a Human Right for all members of a community.
    With respect of the right to belief, ie. a religion or similar, this says nothing about including having the right to force others to live and die according to the edicts of this religion. Any manner in which this is assumed to be a right to interfere with others’ beliefs overwrites the Human Right of life and death of an other individual, since this would mean that the right to live/die of another individual on the basis of the belief of those, who submit to the subservience of life to end in a natural way, ie. because it is God’s will or it is the right of a community, including a medical establishment, to insist on extending the life by all means possible.
    The issue is thus the right to self-decision of an individual to die a good death, as a member of a national or even international community of humans.
    My objection to the present attempts to come to an Euthanasia Law in Australia is therefore that it entirely denies this right to self-decision as a Human Right, which should have priority v.a.v. any medical or other social (mostly religious) organisation’s denial. This is, at the moment, also the hurdle the Dutch Law to End Life is finding itself up against after 13 years, with the increasing demand for the recognition of ‘fulfilled life’ and for self-euthanasia or physician assisted dying, ie. means and information, on the demand of the individual.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *