Legal executions in Western Australia spanned a period of 131 years from 1833 to 1964. Between 1833 and 1855, following British colonisation, executions were performed by hanging or firing squad at several locations, often including the site of the crime.
In 1855 Perth Gaol became the primary location for executions in Western Australia. A little over a decade later, in 1866, Fremantle Prison became the colony’s main prison, where all executions in Western Australia took place between 1889 and 1964. During that period, 43 men and one woman were put to death by hanging.
The last person to face the gallows at Fremantle Prison was serial murderer Eric Edgar Cook, who was nicknamed the “Night Caller”. Cook was a coldblooded pathological killer who assaulted at least 22 victims, eight of whom he murdered. He was executed on 26 October 1964.
Twenty years later capital punishment was abolished, even for the most heinous crimes, by the Burke Labor Government with the passage of the Acts Amendment (Abolition of Capital Punishment) Act 1984.
For the next 14 years Western Australia was devoid of any statutes that sanctioned the killing of any of its citizens under any circumstances.
But in 1998, Liberal Premier Richard Court and the Liberal Cabinet, in an act of profound betrayal, allowed two abortion Bills to be debated simultaneously in the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council. The first was a Private Member’s Bill by Labor MLC Cheryl Davenport, and the second was a government Bill by Liberal Attorney General Peter Foss. Both Bills sanctioned abortion on demand. On 26 May 1998, after months of debate, WA Governor Michael Jeffery gave Royal Assent to the Acts Amendment (Abortion) Act 1998 by signing it into law.
The law authorising the killing of criminals was executed against the guilty. The new law authorising the killing of unborn babies is carried out against the innocent. The former law approved the killing of adults only, while the new law approves the killing of babies. The former was carried out in a prison, the latter is carried out in “clinics” or hospitals. The former was performed by means of gallows, the latter is performed by vacuum, curette, forceps, poison and eviction. The former was carried out upon 44 individuals over 75 years (one every 20 months), the latter upon 173,000 babies over 21 years (one every hour), and the killing continues hour after hour, day after day, year after year.
On 6 August 2019, 21 years after the killing of children in the womb was approved by the Western Australian Parliament, the McGowan WA Labor Government (with the support of all but a handful of valiant pro-life ALP MPs) tabled the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2019.
If it were not for the callousness and complacency surrounding the deaths of tens-of-thousands of children by abortion over the past two decades, it is highly unlikely that the government would now be pushing euthanasia legislation. The mass killing of children prepared the way for the killing of frail and elderly people. Legalising the killing of one category of people by government inevitably leads to legalising the killing of another category, and then another.
The WA Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) Bill 2019 is dangerous, even more so than the recent Victorian euthanasia laws. In Victoria a doctor is prohibited from starting a conversation with a patient about assisted dying and euthanasia. The WA Bill has no such prohibition providing that the doctor does not “by dishonesty, undue influence or coercion” induce a person to request voluntary assisted dying. The Bill still allows plenty of scope for a doctor—a person who holds a position of trust and influence—to engage in a conversation about assisted suicide and euthanasia with a patient who is in a debilitated and vulnerable condition. The effect of the conversation will surely cause the patient to seriously consider death as an option, when otherwise he/she would not have been troubled with thoughts along that line. With ambulance ramping, overcrowded emergency wards, overworked doctors, hospitals and nursing homes filled to capacity, soaring medical expenses, family inheritance being whittled away, and death approaching, the mere introduction of the topic will place patients under pressure to either end their own lives or have their doctor kill them, rather than care for them.
The WA Bill provides access to VAD providing that “the person has reached 18 years of age.” It is a mistake to believe this Bill is geared solely at the elderly—it is open to anyone who is 18 years or older!
Furthermore, it would also be a mistake to believe that the WA Bill only allows for a person to access VAD if death is imminent. Patients will have access to assisted suicide and euthanasia if “on the balance of probabilities” death will result “within a period of six months”. It is impossible for doctors to accurately predict if a person will die in six months. Some persons who have been told they have only days or weeks to live have lived for years.
In addition, the Bill allows patients to access VAD even if they are not in chronic physical pain. Rather than using the word “pain”, the Bill refers to “suffering” that cannot be “relieved in a manner that the person considers tolerable.” The Bill fails to define “suffering” which can include sorrow, anguish and distress, in addition to physical pain. Nor does it define “tolerable”. Imprecise words greatly enlarge the group of people who will be eligible for assisted suicide and euthanasia.
The Bill will skew and corrupt medical records and death certificates for euthanised patients by allowing doctors to falsely record the cause of death as the underlying illness, and not euthanasia. Apparently, truth only matters some of the time. Fabrications are the new order of the day. Accurate statistical records are not important when it comes to killing. We’ll pretend that the patient died as a consequence of the disease, and that the doctor maintained his oath not to do harm or to administer a poison!
Rather than killing and fabricating, consider a biblical approach to dying. The following points are drawn from Scripture.
A biblical approach to dying
1. All life is God-given. Human life possesses an intrinsic dignity and value because it is created by God in his own image. Human life is precious, and therefore God has placed prohibitions against taking it. He states emphatically, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13).
2. We are stewards of our lives, rather than owners. The euthanasia movement’s first principle is radical individualism. Their proposition is that each person owns his/her own body, and therefore should be able to do with it as they choose—including destroy it. Christians however, believe that life is a gift from God—that we are not our own—and that we must submit to his providential care.
3. Birth and death are part of the life processes which God creates and controls, therefore we should respect them. It is God who gives life, and it should be God who in his wisdom and mercy determines its endpoint. The Christian response should be that of Job: “Naked came I from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 2:21).
4. No person has the authority to take the life of any innocent person, even if that person wants to die. The Scripture states that the Lord hates “hands that shed innocent blood” (Proverbs 6:17).
5. Since it is morally wrong to commit suicide it is morally wrong to help someone commit suicide. True compassion leads to sharing the person’s pain; to seeking to alleviate it, but not to kill the person who is suffering from it. Our society should be committed to providing the best possible palliative care.
6. All human lives are equally valuable. Christians believe that every human being has identical value, regardless of whether they are old, or sick, or physically or mentally handicapped, or capable of achieving any-thing significant in life simply because they are human beings, created by God in his image.
What can you do?
1. Pray for the defeat of the Bill.
2. Write a letter or email to your local Member of Legislative Assembly (Lower House). The debate is already well underway, so please don’t delay.
3. Write a letter or email to your Members of the Legislative Council (Upper House). The debate in the Legislative Council will take place later in the year. The addresses of your MPs in both houses can be found by searching on the net for “Member List—Parliament of Western Australia”.
4. Attend the Care: Not Killing Rally on Wednesday, 4 September at 12:00 noon at Parliament House. See the flyer in this edition of Life News about this and other activities being organised in early September.