The Synod meeting was asked to consider the Church’s response to the proposed assisted dying legislation to be introduced into the Victorian parliament.
Synod General Secretary Mark Lawrence told the Synod meeting that he hoped the Church would develop a clear way forward in responding.
Clause (a) of the proposal would only be enacted if the government allows legislation to allow assisted dying in Victoria. It would require consultation throughout the whole of church to assist the Synod Standing Committee in developing a response.
Clause (b) of the proposal, is that the Church would support the government recommendation that any legislation includes the right of conscientious objection for health professionals.
Dr Lawrence pointed Synod members to a consultation paper developed by the Justice and International Mission unit to help congregations and individuals to discern their response and enter into wider discussions. He encouraged members to respond to the paper by the end of October.
In response to questions from the floor, Dr Lawrence explained that the Church’s Ethics Committee had not existed for some time. He said Standing Committee hoped to set up a task group including ethicists, medical practitioners and other interested individuals to inform Standing Committee.
Another question from the floor asked why the word ‘suicide’ was included in the wording of the proposal put to Synod, when it was not part of the legislation put to the Victorian parliament.
Dr Lawrence said that the word ‘suicide’ was commonly used when referring to the legislation.
The Synod decided by consensus to continue the conversation and determine a Church position within the next 18 months.