My views about (24)
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At an appropriate time, Charles will adress the NSW Legislative Assembly with the following speech. It is deep insight into the way Charles' mind works and his highly-developed value system.
I appreciate that this is an extremely sensitive issue for many people. In discussions like this it is important to carefully listen and consider the views of others and to be respectful of their views especially when they differ from our own.
My views have been evolving and very much conditioned by my personal circumstances that included the deaths of 3 elderly family members just a couple of months ago.
My position on this emotive and complex question is relatively simple, for the terminally ill I believe that nature should be allowed to take its course. I do not believe that we as a species or as a community are mature enough or wise enough to administer a process that has death as a preferred outcome.
What does this mean?
It is impossible for me to stand before you in good conscience and say that I think we should be able to choose the time and manner of our death, for that matter nor the time and manner of the death of our family members, or indeed someone who may have been placed in our care through various circumstances.
This is not just a question of faith for the faithful; it is also a question of those fundamental values that define who we are as a society. We care for the dying, we care for the vulnerable and we believe in the sanctity of life. Bringing on death is not caring for the dying or the vulnerable. It does not respect the sanctity of life.
I remember the last days of my father-in-laws life; it is still raw in my memory. I remember thinking why did we shuffle him from specialist to specialist, hospital to hospital, from doctor to doctor trying to preserve just an existence. I remember thinking that if we had allowed nature to take its course many, many months before he would not be suffering as much as he was now.
I remember him saying that he was tired and didn't want to take any more of the medication that was keeping him alive. Yet we persisted. We believed it was an expression of our love; it was the measure of his value to us, his family.
I remember my wife Maria telling me, after he had passed away, that he had called his family one by one to apologise for the burden he had placed on them throughout his illness and how grateful he was for their love and caring.
My mother died just a couple of months later; the experience was not much different. Both of these wonderful people so vibrant in life, so loved by their families had become pain-filled shells struggling to exist, exist but not live.
And herein lies the most fundamental of questions for me. Is it appropriate to administer medical interventions that allow human beings to transition from a state of living to a state of existence?
I DO NOT believe that we should be keeping people "alive" solely for the sake of them existing. They can exist without life as long as their brain and heart are still working. But they will have no real sense of self anymore, no joy, and no hope, no anything. There's no chance at all of recovery. They'll just — exist. As an empty shell. And their life is gone forever . . . lost . . . but still exist. And for what purpose?
I feel that there are many situations when people are being kept alive more for the sake of relatives who are not yet prepared to say goodbye, or their faith requires it, or who believe that it is a demonstration of their love and affection that they do their utmost to prolong their existence.
I am coming to the realisation that prolonging existence without life, for these reasons, is becoming increasingly difficult to justify, at least in my own mind.
And yet the thought of taking action specifically designed to end a life is equally difficult to justify, at least in my own mind.
I remember how easy it would have been to convince my father-in-law that the best option for him was to end his life, in the state that he was in "being a burden to his family", he was already pre-disposed to doing anything to remove himself as a burden on the family that he so loved.
And yes, as much as it pains me to say so, general criticisms of our society include increasing levels of self-interest and selfish behaviours.
I can easily imagine situations involving people who could benefit from convincing those in a state of extreme vulnerability, by manipulating processes and people to end lives prematurely.
I am equally concerned that people through logic, believing they know best, would try and convince someone that it was the sensible thing to do, that it was selfish to keep the person alive, that we need to end their suffering before they suffer too much.
I am conflicted, as an emotional being switching between my heart and my mind as I struggle for an answer to this complex problem I realise I do not have the wisdom of Solomon. Nor am I as self-assured as those who claim to have the answer by advocating for the "Rights of the Terminally Ill" on the basis that death is a right! A right for who?
The terminally ill have the right to be cared and loved, to be supported. I see no dignity in either the individual or our community in executing a state sanctioned death regardless of its motivation.
This Bill also challenges the role of medical practitioners and good medical practice. The act of deliberately ending the life of a patient, irrespective of its motivation, by a medical practitioner can only be considered an extreme violation of the most fundamental principal of medicine.
We should reflect on one version of the Hippocratic Oath "I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone. I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel".
That said I acknowledge that the following actions are legitimate responses to and are available for the terminally ill on the request of the patient and family.
Not initiating or no longer continuing "life-sustaining" treatment that results in death as a direct consequence of the underlying disease.
Not initiating or continuing "life-prolonging" measures.
Treatment or other action intended to relieve symptoms which may have a secondary consequence of hastening death.
This is why I come back to the same view. People should be allowed to pass from this life naturally. They should not be artificially terminated at a predetermined time nor be kept "alive" artificially for the sake of existence.
I believe nature should be allowed to take its course for the terminally ill, if so desired.
I will therefore not support the current "Rights of the Terminally Ill" Bill.
Delivered 21 June 2006 in the Legislative Assembly
Mr CHARLES CASUSCELLI (Strathfield) [7.51 p.m.]: I recently attended a function that was important not just to the Italian community in my electorate of Strathfield and other neighbouring electorates but also to keen fishermen everywhere, commercial fishermen and recreational anglers.
Charles added to the debate on the Public Sector Employment and Management Amendment Bill 2012