Liz Carr warns about euthanasia


Hi, I'm Liz Carr. I'm an actor, a comedian, a disability rights activist, and I'm also a disabled person who opposes the legalisation of assisted suicide and euthanasia. And this is a message from me here in Melbourne at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival to all of my friends, all of our friends down under.

Really, it's a message to implore you to be incredibly cautious about introducing medically or physician 'assisted suicide' into your states or your country.

It's a scary thing for disabled people. Why? Many people say this has got nothing to do with disability. This is about mentally competent terminally ill people only. But you know what, there is such a fine line between terminal illness and disability with medically and in public perception that we become one and the same. And that means then that assisted suicide is seen by the public, by the medical profession, as a compassionate, a rational solution, even, to the problems of anyone who's ill and disabled.

We discovered this in the UK where in 2015 our Parliament got to debate for the first time in 16 years whether we should introduce this into our country. Now it was a hard fought over law, first debated in the Lord's then debated in the Commons. Ultimately the vote went in this way: 330 MPs of all persuasions voted to oppose legalising physician-assisted suicide. Only 118 supported it because ultimately there is no proof, no proof in the jurisdictions where it's been legalised that vulnerable people, that people at risk, that the silent voices, the more silent voices, of older disabled and ill people will be heard and will be protected or will not be protected through these laws.

And that's the thing; do we introduce a law for the benefit of a few at the risk to the many? We can't do that.

Most countries do not have capital punishment because even after a court case (and) investigations, there miscarriages of justice. Now we're talking about two doctors and a checklist deciding on whether somebody should be helped to end their life - that's it. Those same doctors will assess the person. Those same doctors will evaluate it afterwards. It's no wonder that in the countries where it's been legalised there's very little feedback on what actually happens because the same doctors that do it are the same doctors that feed back. Anything can happen in that doctor's waiting room and that doctor's consultation room.

And I'm not saying that doctors are bad people - hell I wouldn't be alive here. I love the medical profession. But the British Medical Association, the Australian Medical Association do not support 'assisted suicide' and these are the people which will be licensed to help you to end your life. The very people.

So look; at a time where there are increasing pressures and cuts financially and rationing in terms of social care and welfare and health care for many different people, is this the right time to be introducing medically 'assisted suicide' onto the menu of treatment options in your state or country. No.

And you know what, as long as we value certain lives differently - and we do - we value the lives of disabled and ill people and those who have greater dependence, we value those lives less. And as long as that's true and as long as that's happening we cannot enshrine that inequality in a law.

So I implore you. That's why I'm here, to implore you to not legalise assisted suicide. It is okay to say "no". Opposing does not make you lacking in compassion, it does not make you a bad person, it does not make you anti-choice. It means that you want a good death for everyone and you're not prepared to risk that on the rest of your population