The synod’s Justice and International Mission unit is calling on church members to share their views on voluntary assisted dying as the Victorian government prepares to introduce a Dying with Dignity Bill into parliament later this year.
The proposed Bill will allow people experiencing unbearable pain as a result of a terminal illness to access medical intervention to end their lives, under certain circumstances.
The JIM unit has released a discussion paper detailing the 66 recommendations from the Victorian government’s Ministerial Advisory Panel, which outline how voluntary assisted dying would work in practice.
The paper also provides an overview of the diversity of Christian opinion on voluntary assisted dying/euthanasia.
The synod has yet to make a definitive statement on voluntary assisted dying.
In 1995, the Synod meeting concluded that it was not ready to “support or oppose legislation to provide for active euthanasia in Victoria.”
When the Tasmanian government debated Dying with Dignity legislation in 2016 the Presbytery of Tasmania made a submission declaring that the Church was neither for nor against the Bill.
The consultation paper on the proposed Victorian legislation aims to encourage discussion amongst presbyteries and congregations on whether the synod should adopt a new stance on voluntary assisted dying.
The JIM unit emphasises that church members will play a leading role in this consultation process.
“The role of the Justice and International Mission unit is to try and gauge if the Synod should take a new position,” the paper said.
“The JIM Unit is not proposing any specific position be taken.
“Further, the JIM Unit recognises there will be strongly held views to support or oppose laws to actively assist in dying/suicide.”
The discussion paper includes biblical and theological reflections from a number of Uniting Church ministers who support and oppose voluntary assisted dying.
The paper points out some implications for the Synod if the Bill is passed, particularly in its aged care facilities.
It also presents case studies from the US and Europe to illustrate the impact of voluntary assisted dying in other jurisdictions.
Church members are encouraged to make a submission to the JIM unit before Friday 20 October 2017.
Submissions can be sent to:
End of Life Options Submission
c/- Justice and International Mission Unit Uniting Church Synod Centre
130 Little Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The JIM Unit also welcomes consultations with presbyteries, congregations and small groups to hear people’s views on the issues raised by the consultation paper.
To arrange a meeting, call (03) 9251 5271 or email email@example.com