On Tuesday 20th December, 2011, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Parramatta and well-known bioethecist, the Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney. This was an historic occasion which saw 103 students became the first-ever medical students to graduate from Sydney's newest medical school. The article below had appeared on the Sydney Cathoic News website, leading to medical graduate Samuel Birch, an Anglican, being quoted by Bishop Fisher in his address to the University:
"Last week I saw an article entitled Euthanasia Goes Against All We Stand For. In it one of those graduating today, Samuel Birch, made an excellent case for doctors maintaining the ancient ethic that distinguishes them from witchdoctors and hired guns. In the struggle for the soul of our culture the battlegrounds are increasingly the very places where our graduates will practice: hospitals and aged care facilities, parliaments, courts, bureaucracies and academies.
"If our highest values are to survive it will require young men and women of intelligence and courage. From my brief encounters with Sam and from what I've heard from his teachers, his pro-life commitment is much more than a theory or slogan: he cares passionately for people and this will serve him very well as a young doctor . . ."
If euthanasia is legalised in Australia either by individual states or the Federal government itself it would be against the bedrock of everything it means to be a doctor, says University of Notre Dame's honours graduate Samuel Birch.
"The primary goal of those with a terminal illness is to be relieved of their suffering. But if a person is in pain, eliminating the person who suffers rather than the suffering itself is against everything a doctor stands for," he says.
At 23, Samuel along with 102 others will make history on 20 December when they are awarded their Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery degrees and become the first-ever medical students to graduate from Sydney's newest medical school. They are also graduating at a time when the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia is once more being debated, with the Greens and various independent MP's in state parliaments lobbying for a change to current laws to permit mercy killing.
Samuel Birch "A doctor wears the white coat of healing and under Hippocratic Oath promises to 'do no harm.' But if a doctor is to become the one that not only wears the white coat of life but also the black cloak of death, I believe this would not only vastly change the medical profession itself but the way people view the medical profession," Samuel says.
Like many others in the medical profession, including the AMA and the South Australian Law Society, Samuel believes if legalised homicide is allowed in one small area, then it will be all too easy for society to decide that the original circumstance should also apply to other similar circumstances. "I believe once we let people determine whether their life is or isn't worth living, from complying with requests for voluntary euthanasia, the medical profession will be asked to start making judgements about Alzheimer's and dementia patients and pretty soon this will include babies with birth defects and on it will go," he says and cites the Remmelink Reports on euthanasia practices in the Netherlands where physician assisted suicide was approved by Parliament in 1984 under strict guidelines, although it wasn't until 2000 that a law was passed to protect physicians from criminal prosecution.
Go HERE to read the entire article.