Archbishop Peter A Comensoli has welcomed the federal court’s ruling that voluntary assisted dying (VAD) is considered suicide under criminal law, clarifying it is not lawful for doctors to give patients information about euthanasia by means of telehealth, email or phone call.
The court’s ruling addressed a section of the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995, which says that it is an offence for someone to use a carriage service to incite or counsel another into committing suicide. Dr Nick Carr, who brought the matter to the Federal Court of Australia, argued the Act should not apply to doctors using telehealth for VAD purposes.
The court, however, ruled that ‘suicide’ does in fact apply to the ending of a person’s life under state VAD laws. This means that doctors who consult patients via carriage services (telehealth, phone, email) would not be doing so lawfully.
‘The better interpretation of those words is that they simply bear their ordinary and natural meaning, the intentional taking of one’s own life, and the act of doing so,’ Justice Wendy Abraham ruled.
Archbishop Peter A Comensoli has welcomed the ruling and called today’s federal court decision significant.
‘The judgement legally clarified that voluntary assisted dying (VAD) is a form of suicide,’ he said.
‘The ruling underscores that VAD is not a health service but an intentional ending of someone’s life.’
The Archbishop said that to deal with such a serious situation by means of a carriage service would be ‘a failure of good medicine’.
‘People at the end of their lives are at their most vulnerable; what they deserve is our compassion, care and accompaniment, not euthanasia.’
The ruling underscores that VAD is not a health service but an intentional ending of someone’s life.