Nurses are the front line of health care so
their views on euthanasia matter a lot. That’s why it was so surprising to read
an editorial in the Australian
Nursing Journal by the president of the Australian Nursing
Federation, Coral Levett, which endorses it wholeheartedly. It is a personal
endorsement, but since her union has 200,000 members, her personal views are
likely to influence policy-making within the Australian Labor Party, and even
in the Gillard government.

And it was even more surprising when I
discovered that the editorial was based upon a Powerpoint presentation by the vice-president
of NSW Dying With Dignity, Sara Edelman.

I published an indignant opinion piece in
The Punch
, a News Ltd on-line magazine (they picked the image above). To quote myself:

The
ANF has effectively become a ventriloquist’s dummy for the Dying With Dignity
movement, echoing its distorted slogans and misconstrued research. For
instance, both Levett and Edelman assert that Albania has legalised voluntary
euthanasia. That will be news in Albania. They even get their facts wrong about
voluntary euthanasia in Oregon, where, they say, it is “already legalised”.
That will be news in Oregon. Oregon allows assisted suicide, but its health
department says quite clearly that: “Euthanasia is illegal in every state in
the US, including Oregon.”

With
all the hoo-haa about out-of-touch union officials, I wonder how many of the
ANF’s 200,000 members support Ms Levett? Has she polled them to see whether
they are prepared to help elderly and depressed people to kill themselves?
“Quality care for older Australians” is the slogan on the ANF website. Do
Australian nurses really think that euthanasia constitutes “quality care”? …

Nurses are the backbone of health care in
Australia. Their role is to protect the infirm and the elderly at the most
vulnerable moments of their lives – not to stand back and say, “Sorry, love, I
don’t really care whether you kill yourself or not.” By backing voluntary
euthanasia, the head of the Australian Nursing Federation has betrayed her
profession.  

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet.