A bill seeking to legalise voluntary assisted dying in Tasmania "promotes hopelessness and fear", the Australian Christian Lobby says.
ACL Tasmanian director Christopher Brohier said the End-of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020's loose definition of suffering would enable people to end their lives if they subjectively felt they were "suffering intolerably".
"When Tasmania could be boldly offering hope and comfort by strengthening palliative care, Mr Gaffney's hopeless assisted suicide proposal builds on people's fear of the future, promoting a sense of despair instead of purpose and endurance," Mr Brohier said.
"Worse still, this bill also targets vulnerable young Tasmanians from the age of 18."
The ACL called on upper house members to reject the bill and instead promote effective palliative care for Tasmanians considering end-of-life issues.
But Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Assisted Dying spokesman Ian Wood said it was deplorable the ACL was fear-mongering on the bill with its use of the terms "hopeless", "hopelessness" and "suicide".
"The ACL speaks for only a small minority of Christians," Mr Wood said.
"We are Christians who believe that, as a demonstration of love and compassion, those with a terminal illness should have the option of a pain-free, peaceful and dignified death with legal voluntary euthanasia or VAD."
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Mr Wood said those who opposed the concept of VAD were free to make their choice not to request assistance.
"It may seem paradoxical but there is considerable evidence that those who request and are approved access to an assisted death frequently live longer and have a better end quality of life than those who do not request assistance," he said.
"The choice removes the toxic fear of how that person might die and puts them back in control."
Mersey independent MLC Mike Gaffney, who intends to table the bill in late August, said he accepted there were a huge range of perspectives and experiences regarding the issue of VAD both within the Christian community and beyond.
"The bill provides an opportunity for those who wish to choose VAD to do so - it does not make the practice compulsory, nor is it encouraged. It is simply about individual choice," Mr Gaffney said.
Mr Gaffney said there were no "loose definitions" in the legislation.
"The bill seeks to provide assurance to those who have received a diagnosis which flags imminent, unrelenting suffering, so that they can initiate steps to manage their pain or illness in anticipation of the condition becoming intolerable," he said.
"Palliative Care Tasmania have advised that any Tasmanian who intends to utilise VAD will be provided with palliative care options up until such time as they proceed to the VAD event, if in fact they do."
Mr Gaffney said he was saddened by the emotive and inaccurate language used by ACL when speaking of the bill which was clearly designed to shock or initiate guilt.
"The term 'suicide' is insensitive to the families and loved ones of those who have, will, or would have liked the opportunity to have relieved their suffering through VAD," he said.
"According to this bill, those who access VAD do not die 'by suicide'."