A Letter Written by Marita Dunphy
3th May 2024


3 May 2024
Hon Anthony Albanese MP
Prime Minister of Australia
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
Email: https://www.pm.gov.au/contact


Dear Hon Anthony Albanese

KILLING ME ‘softly’


 Currently Federal Australian law (Criminal Code Act 1995) prohibits doctors/others counselling suicide over the phone and internet. This applies to the use of telehealth for assistance to suicide and euthanasia. Contact between a doctor and patient in relation to assisted suicide and euthanasia must be in person.

The euthanasia bill was pushed through in 2017. This has paved the way for the bill introduced into Federal Parliament in February 2024 by Katherine Chaney (IND Curtin), seconded by Dr Monique Ryan (IND Kooyong) to allow the use of telehealth for assistance to suicide and euthanasia.

I wish to express serious concerns about this bill and urgently ask you to consider the implications – and to oppose the bill.

Telemedicine increases the dangers of a practice already prone to abuse. Patients experiencing genuine suffering at their end of life deserve dignity, respect and support for all their life decisions.

The euthanasia bill has normalised the devaluing of life. Mother Teresa said – “ the greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy, it is being unwanted, unloved and uncared for ” .Naturally patients will suffer genuine pain, loss, sadness, isolation and loneliness in their illness. However, it is our measure as a community family to ensure patients feel supported at this time.

The issues include:

  • Depriving patients of palliative care by providing inferior video link consultation is irresponsible.
  • The lack of safeguards from exploitation – e.g. elder abuse. A brief video-link in which “abusers” may well be facilitating and/or present at the telehealth consultation. We know older people are being coerced into financial gain by relatives. A doctor cannot know what is going on in the background of a telehealth conversation.
  • Availability of telehealth makes ‘doctor shopping’ easier for the patient who is only seeking end- of-life treatment.
  • The new bill would allow states to use telehealth for future expansion, such as for mental health or for children.
  • The significant risk that factors impairing judgement (such as depression) may not be detected. Dr John Duffy from Australian Care Alliance expressed extreme concern. “Through in-person consultation you get to know patients … pick up on their unspoken body language, which can’t be ascertained through the internet. …you’re talking about people killing themselves … and it would seem inappropriate to do it via telehealth.” (The Age, 4 May, p. 4).
  • An article in the Washington Times highlights the dangers of using telemedicine: washingtontimes.com/news/2020/jul/14/when-telemedicine-can-be-dangerous-even-deadly
  • Anti-life legislation is an attack on the consciences of our health professionals to choose between obeying the law of the land, and obeying the Law of God – discerned in their conscience.
  • I believe there is urgency to assert the rights to a natural death without aggressive treatment and euthanasia, and firmly reject the death penalty. All things are decided by God. He decides when we live and when we die. Our role is to express God’s love during times of suffering.

Please oppose the removal of the existing ban of telehealth consultations.

Yours sincerely
Marita Dunphy

CC        Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP, Federal Attorney-General – mark.dreyfus.mp@aph.gov.au

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