So, I went to Queensland Palliative Care’s Your Death, Your Choice community forum last weekend and, to tell the truth, for the first half of the morning I was a bit ‘pissed’ that the speakers all seemed to be skirting around the subject of voluntary euthanasia. That’s what I’d come to hear people talk about!
During the lunch break I had a friendly, but fairly intense chat with Dr Mark Deuble. As our conversation progressed, I could tell he was incredibly irritated that I wanted to focus on VE, when he wanted to focus on the immediate, pressing needs of the palliative care sector.
I don’t think I made a very good impression. I’m sure the words, “What an incredibly annoying woman!” were muttered under his breath as I went back to my seat.
I told him I’d be writing an article on the forum. I imagine him thinking, “God, help us!”
Well, I may be annoying, but I’m not stupid or intractable.
During the afternoon session and long into the night I thought very carefully about Dr Deuble’s argument.
I can’t say I agree that VE shouldn’t be an issue until we’ve addressed the parlous state of palliative care in this country; but I can see his point. My argument would be that in those countries and jurisdictions where VE has been legalized, it helped shine a spotlight on palliative care and forced governments to pay far more attention to it than they had in the past. VE is good for palliative care.
But, I’ve already had my rant about euthanasia this week. So, when I sat down to write a less ranty article about palliative care and the Your Death, Your Choice forum, Dr Deuble was very much on my mind.
We may disagree on VE, but what absolutely shone through was that he was a caring and dedicated physician with an absolute burning passion to advocate for better end-of-life care for his patients. Dr Deuble spoke eloquently and from the heart and he made me take a broader view of the whole VE debate.
Don’t worry! I haven’t gone soft on VE. But it’s as if I’d been focused on Sydney and someone took me up in a plane and showed me New South Wales. After I got over the fact that Dr Deuble didn’t agree with every single word I uttered, I kind of went, “Wow! I’ve actually never looked at it from that perspective!” I thank him for that.
What Dr Deuble and the folks at Palliative Care Queensland need (and I, suspect, Palliative Care advocacy groups in other states as well) is public support. They need us to contact our state pollies and say, “What are YOU doing to improve palliative care in this state?”
My article on the Your Death, Your Choice forum was published on ABC’s Religion and Ethics portal today. I really hope Dr Deuble will like it and maybe think of me as somewhat less annoying.
I’ve sent a copy of my article to my local state member today and I’ve made an appointment to talk to him about it (and a few other things that are making me ranty) on Monday.
So, let me ask you a favour. Read my article, and if you think Dr Deuble and I have made a fair case, think about forwarding the link to your local state member and asking what they’re doing to fix the problem.