Palliative Care Receives a Death Sentence
The NSW Labor Government has shown us what the future of aged care and looking after the terminally ill is going to be like. It’s going to be non-existent. In the future, indeed in the present, it is increasingly the case that you will be obligated to die as cheaply as possible. Cos ain’t nobody got the time and money to look after you.
The government of Premier Chris Minns has slashed 150 million dollars from the end-of-life funding program in that state. Of course he’s not coming out and saying “Hey it would be cheaper if we could just end your life more rapidly and with some serious, but far less expensive intervention!“, but that’s the gist of it.
Previous Premier, Dominic Perrottet, a committed Catholic who voted against euthanasia in the Parliament, had pledged to increase funding for palliative care. Cos, well cos, when your worldview is committed to the dignity, value and worth of all humans as made in the image of God, that’s what you kinda do.
But when you don’t, you kinda don’t.
As reported in The Sydney Morning Herald, many doctors are dismayed at the decision:
On Thursday, retired palliative care physician Dr Philip Lee said there was “depression” among local health services at the decision to cut the extra funding, saying it would mean plans to recruit extra palliative staff would have to be paused or appointments cancelled.
The newpaper reports that “one large Sydney district told its palliative care funding would be reduced by 30 per cent.” We will need to start doing the maths on who gets that care. Of course that’s the case with all funding limitations in medicine, but it’s interesting that in an ageing population such as we have in Australia, a major funding cut is targeting those who are often, though not exclusively, older. I guess it’s one way to keep the gen-pop young.
Now this is not to say that you have to believe in God to have a deep compassion towards those in palliative care, and a desire to ensure they are well looked after no matter how long the process of dying takes.
My own father spent the last few years of his life in an increasing vegetative state, as Lewy Body Dementia took hold of him. His doctor, who is now a running friend of mine with whom I have lots of conversations around ethics, was superb in his advice to us as Dad’s life neared its end. Although not a religious person, his compassion in his calling and career in aged-care facilities was recognised with him being award Western Australia’s GP of the Year in 2022.
But where is the future headed for the aged and the terminal? It would seem that in this modern, secular world of financial constraints, convenience, not to mention the immanent frame in which “this is all there is”, that there will be less and less money for palliative care, and more and more pressure to “end it quickly for the sake of everyone else” – you know, a good old classic utilitarian argument.
And with the constant news articles about the increasing cost of aged care, it’s only a matter of time before grandma and grandpa can browse through glossy brochures that offer then an eye-wateringly priced aged-care-room, or a much colder, more clinical room with a needle or a pill.
More Euthanasia For More People
Of course it’s not just the ageing now, though is it? Can
I was just reading this morning on the UnHerd site about the continued, inexorable advancement of the assisted suicide laws in Canada. And its sobering. There’s a progressive, utilitarian, and oh so chilling zeal, to what is going on in that fair land.
How about this for a headline?
4.1 per cent! Already. And we’re not even getting started. Journalist James Billot reports:
…towards the end of last year, the programme was criticised for allegedly driving citizens into assisted suicide on the grounds of poverty or lack of healthcare. Stories included two separate cases of cash-strapped women suffering from chronic health conditions who successfully applied to end their lives. Elsewhere, four Canadian military veterans were allegedly “pressured” to opt for medically-assisted death by a now-suspended Veterans Affairs Canada caseworker.
The progressive Canadian state is becoming increasingly emboldened and coercive. So how about this:
Canada legalised euthanasia in 2016, but the remit of MAiD has expanded in recent years. In 2021, the Canadian parliament passed Bill C-7, a law which repealed a requirement that only those suffering from a terminal illness whose natural death was “reasonably foreseeable” could request euthanasia. Next March, the programme will again be expanded further to include anyone whose sole underlying issue is a mental illness.
But of course there’s no slippery slope. And the supreme irony in all of this is that we’re spending millions – billions – on resolving mental health issues, yet here we are offering euthanasia in the West to those who are mentally ill. It’s the same head swivel I get when I see an advertisement for health supplements for pregnant women and their “baby”. We routinely discard of the self-same “baby” but depersonalise it and reduce it to “the foetus” status when it is unwanted. There’s one thing you can say about the modern ethical framework, it’s inconsistent. And it’s demented.
The Yoof: Euthanasia Enthusiasts
Do you know what makes it really chilling? Really post-Christianly chilling? It’s something historian Tom Holland points out: the young are increasingly enthusiastic for euthanasia.
Note that: the younger generation, never steeped in a Christian framework, are the real enthusiasts here.
I guess that makes sense in the nihilistic framework they inhabit, with so many of the doomsday harbingers amped up by the zealots of alarm. The stats – again from Canada – show the trend upwards in support for euthanasia for all sorts of reasons. It’s ever onwards and upwards. Here’s the full stats so that you can get your mind around it:
Read those stats and mourn. Welcome to the godless age. And that’s when there’s still something of a yuck factor around some euthanasia enthusiasm. Imagine when the state’s education czars include it as part of the health education program: “Sir, will this be in the exam?”
That most grumpy, but incisive of theologians, Stanley Hauerwas, made this observation back in 2019:
“I’d say, in 100 years, if Christians are people identified as those who do not kill their children or their elderly, we would have been doing something right.” “I think in the name of compassion, we’re living in a social order that will increasingly not know what to do with those born dying.”
A couple of things to note from that. It will all be done in the name of the same compassion that Christ had on those who were like sheep without a shepherd. A post-Christian uglified version of compassion , that apes the real thing, but has nothing but nihilism at the centre. That’s what a post-Christian world offers- a facade of the virtues through which the gospel transformed the world.
And notice too that even as short a time again as 2019 Hauerwas was too optimistic in terms of timeframe and scope. 100 years? As if! We’re well on the way now. And only their children and their elderly? What about all the inbetweeners that the Canadian yoof are already convinced should be offered death now, even when not in their right minds?
The Who sang “I hope I die before I get old!” We’re well on the way to that being required.