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Posted on Saturday 10th September 2022 at 2:53am

Religiouis dogmatism about social policy within the Anglican church in Australia is contributing to a very substantial exodus of its congregation.

No, I don’t mean Exodus 10:1, though ‘a plague of locusts on your house so that I might escape it’ could be relevant. I mean exodus = ‘to leave’, and 101 = ‘the most basic introductory unit of a subject stream as numbered at universities’. It’s a metaphor for “what are the basic reasons Australians are leaving religion in droves?”

I’ve discussed this subject in my research series Religiosity in Australia, penned as a Fellow of the Australian Rationalist Society. And this week, we were furnished with another example underpinning exodus 101, this time from the Anglican church.

Keywords: Fudge | Fiction | Faith | Australia | Anglican/Church of England/Episcopal

 

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Posted on Wednesday 6th April 2022 at 6:35pm

The voluntary assisted dying rates of both the Netherlands and Belgium have levelled off - at different, culturally-bound values - as my analysis six years ago predicted.

Through the lens of Covid lock-downs, six years ago seems like an eternity ago, doesn't it? But it was back in 2016 that I published a major analysis of voluntary assisted dying rates and practice in the Benelux lowlands, focusing a bright spotlight on the Netherlands and Belgium.

Using authoritative and robust data, I indicated that the ongoing rise in both countries' VAD rates would level out at rates that were culturally bound. This despite persistent hyperventilations of VAD opponents that most of us would eventually be "knocked off" by not-so-voluntary euthanasia. Generally, the adoption of behaviours at the societal level tends to follow a sigmoidal (stretched S-shaped) curve, and the then VAD data was consistent with this phenomenon.

Keywords: Assisted dying (AD) | Belgium | Netherlands | Analysis | Statistics

 

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Posted on Friday 18th March 2022 at 1:00am

The Anglican archbishop of Sydney has revealed profound ignorance by revealing he hasn't a CLUE what his own flock think about voluntary assisted dying law reform.

I've written previously about bishops demonstrating their ignorance, as in the example of Catholic Bishop Tim Harris who presumed most or all of his flock opposes voluntary assisted dying (VAD), when in fact a significant majority support it. This time it's the Anglican Sydney diocese archbishop who's loudly flaunting his biases.

Sydney Anglican archbishop Kanishka Raffel (pictured on the diocese website above), has launched a program calling on NSW parliamentarians to reject a bill that, with a large number of safeguards, seeks to make VAD lawful in the state. NSW is the last state in the nation that still outlaws the practice.

Keywords: Fearmonger | Fudge | Fiction | Faith | Australia | New South Wales | Frank Brennan | Margaret Somerville | Religion | Christian | Anglican/Church of England/Episcopal | Legislative reform | Lobbying: Opponents | Rhetoric: Slippery slope | Rhetoric: Suicide | Rhetoric: The 'vulnerable'

 

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Posted on Thursday 13th January 2022 at 11:00pm

A repeat publisher against voluntary assisted dying for the terminally ill, Dr Marion Harris has let ‘er rip again in The Australian newspaper with eye-watering logical inanity, and misinformation about palliative care.

Dr Marion Harris recently published another op-ed, this one in The Australian, against legalising voluntary assisted dying for the terminally ill. Her “reasoning” is inane, failing the basics of Logic 101 and offering up misinformation about palliative care. It also comprehensively fails to mention her deep underpinning Catholic ideology.

Dr Marion Harris is an experienced Melbourne-based oncologist. Having practiced for some twenty years, she’s co-authored research papers published in the peer-reviewed medical literature regarding the assessment of treatments for particular kinds of cancer.

Keywords: Fearmonger | Flapdoodle | Fudge | Faith | Assisted dying (AD) | Voluntary euthanasia (VE) | Australia | Victoria | Catholic | Rhetoric: The 'vulnerable'

 

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Posted on Monday 13th September 2021 at 8:07pm

The Canberra Times demonstrates why the mainstream media can sometimes be the problem in public-square debates publishing misinformation and failing to publish corrections.

Last month, the Catholic Archbishop of Canberra & Goulburn, Christopher Prowse, published an opinion piece about VAD in the Canberra Times. Naturally, Prowse's views were opposed, which is fine. A range of views is always welcome. Misinformation, however, is not.

It would be unreasonable to expect that the opinion editor of the Canberra Times, Andrew Thorpe, would be intimately versed in the empirical evidence about voluntary assisted dying (VAD). So, it was reasonable that he publish an opinion piece on the topic offered by Archbishop Prowse. What is not reasonable, however, is that the counter-opinion I promptly submitted, pointing out several points of significant misinformation, was not published. A month later, still nothing.

Keywords: Fearmonger | Flapdoodle | Filibuster | Flip-flop | Fudge | Fiction | Faith | Assisted dying (AD) | Euthanasia | Australian Capital Territory | New South Wales | Religion | Rhetoric: Palliative care can always help | Rhetoric: Slippery slope | Rhetoric: Suicide | Rhetoric: The 'vulnerable'

 

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Posted on Wednesday 26th May 2021 at 4:03am

The other day, a TV commercial from more than 30 years ago popped into my head. In a rollicking exposé of hidden interests and purposeful agendas, I explain why.

The other day a TV commercial from more than 30 years ago popped into my head. It was a humorous slice-of-life scene in which a teenage son gobbles down a breakfast bowl of Sultana Bran cereal. He complains that his health-kick girlfriend had made him eat vegetarian the night before. His family eye each other with mirth as he eats.

The punch line? “Don’t mention it’s healthy and they’ll eat it by the boxful.”

sultana_bran_ad_1990.jpg The Kellogg's Sultana Bran TV commercial from 1990.

Despite having worked in advertising research for years, I’m sure I hadn’t thought of this ad for at least a couple of decades. So what brought this vignette suddenly to mind?

Keywords: Fearmonger | Flapdoodle | Filibuster | Flip-flop | Fudge | Fiction | Faith | Assisted dying (AD) | Euthanasia | Belgium | Catholic Church | Catholic

 

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Posted on Tuesday 27th April 2021 at 7:12pm

The Netherlands' euthanasia commission has just released its latest annual report card, showing a modest rise in cases but a steady proportion of all deaths.

The Netherlands euthanasia commission has just released its 2020 annual report.

The report shows that the number of cases rose around 9% over the 2019 year. However, the number of total deaths was also up, resulting in a continuation of relatively level rate in recent years (Figure 1).

netherlandsbelgium2020.gif
Figure 1: The assisted dying rate in the Netherlands and Belgium

Keywords: Assisted dying (AD) | Belgium | Netherlands | Regulation | Statistics

 

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Posted on Saturday 13th March 2021 at 11:57pm

Anti-VAD campaigners have caused themselves further major embarrassment by repeatedly cherry-picking statistics to try and establish a case that the full data conflicts with.

Here we go again. Branka van der Linden of Catholic anti-VAD website “HOPE”, and the Australian Care Alliance — endorsed by a number of well-known, committed Catholic doctors — have just published more egregious misinformation against VAD. This time they've collectively piled it on Victoria's general suicide statistics, recently updated by the Victorian Coroner. So what did they say, and how did it misrepresent the actual situation? Let's take a look.

The reason the statistics are being discussed is because in 2017, Victoria's parliament legalised voluntary assisted dying (VAD) for the terminally ill. The law came into effect halfway through 2019, and 2020 was the first full year of its operation.


Australian Care Alliance gets the basics wrong


Keywords: Bull | Fudge | Fiction | Faith | Assisted dying (AD) | Australia | Victoria | Branka van der Linden | Religion | Catholic | Statistics | Rhetoric | Rhetoric: Suicide | Rhetoric: Suicide 'contagion'

 

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Posted on Wednesday 3rd March 2021 at 9:32pm

Belgium and Oregon have just released their 2020 reports cards covering voluntary assisted dying practice.

Belgium and the USA state of Oregon both released their annual voluntary assisted dying (VAD) reports this week. I report on the numbers.

While the Netherlands and Washington state haven't released their 2020 annual VAD report cards yet, Belgium and Oregon have.

Keywords: Assisted dying (AD) | Belgium | Netherlands | Oregon

 

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Posted on Sunday 11th October 2020 at 11:19pm

The latest media release from the Australian Christian Lobby against voluntary assisted dying (VAD) law reform exposes the soft underbelly of their desperation -- headlining their argument with a bullshit anecdote.

"Bullshit!"

That was the reaction of Dutch Senator Erik Jurgens when I asked him about a Dutch euthanasia anecdote spread by Mr Paul Russell, then head of the Australian anti-VAD Catholic front organisation "HOPE". In 2011, Mr Russell had been spreading the story:

"I often use the story of the death of a 26 year old ballerina in Holland [sic]. She had contracted a form of arthritis at this young age and her dancing career and dreams were dashed. An American oncologist who spoke later to the killing doctor reported the Dutch medico as saying something like 'One doesn't like doing it, but it was her choice.'" — Paul Russell, "HOPE" [my emphasis]

Keywords: Fearmonger | Fudge | Fiction | Faith | Australia | Netherlands | Paul Russell | Religion

 

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Posted on Sunday 4th October 2020 at 4:13am

Swiss law allows assisted suicide with only one condition: assistance may be rendered for non-selfish motives. So has a significant increase in assisted deaths lead to so-called "suicide contagion"? I spill the beans.

Supposed Dutch suicide contagion from assisted dying

Recently, Dr Theo Boer, an Assistant Professor at a "black-stocking" (strongly conservative Protestant) theological college in the Netherlands, was at it again — criticising the Dutch euthanasia law to anyone who would listen: "don't follow the Dutch euthanasia law path because it leads to 'suicide contagion'".

I've exposed Prof. Boer's cherry-picked nonsense before. Astonishingly, he even ignores data from the Dutch Euthanasia Commission, despite the fact he used to serve on one of its five Regional Review Committees.

Keywords: Fearmonger | Fudge | Fiction | Faith | Assisted dying (AD) | Australia | Victoria | Belgium | Netherlands | Switzerland | Theo Boer | Margaret Somerville

 

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Posted on Friday 18th September 2020 at 4:47am

A recently-published account of a grandmother's death paints a scathing picture of Victoria's voluntary assisted dying law. So what's its provenance? I expose a trail of vested-interest backing, leading to a particular source. Hold on to your hats…

A friend pointed out to me an opinion piece published this week in MercatorNet that slams Victoria's voluntary assisted dying (VAD) law. Written about an elderly woman with cancer who used the law to die peacefully, it's an angry diatribe written by the woman’s granddaughter-in-law: one Mrs Madeleine Dugdale.

Update 21-Sep-2020

Mrs Madeleine Dugdale's article has been withdrawn from MercatorNet without explanation. Here's a screenshot of the original.

dugdalegranscreenshot620.jpg

And this is Mrs Dougdale's "about" page after the article was withdrawn.

Keywords: Fearmonger | Filibuster | Fudge | Fiction | Faith | Australia | Religion | Catholic | Claim response | Legislation | Rhetoric | Rhetoric: Suicide | Rhetoric: The 'vulnerable'

 

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Posted on Tuesday 15th September 2020 at 12:42am

If you're wondering how religious the organised opposition to voluntary assisted dying (VAD) law reform is, current ructions in Tasmania provide a marvellous petri dish of evidence.

If you're wondering how religious the organised opposition to voluntary assisted dying (VAD) law reform is, current ructions in Tasmania provide a marvellous petri dish of evidence.

Catholic church call to arms

Back in 2011, the now Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, wrote a lengthy, deliberative editorial against VAD, calling on the church to enlist people with no obvious religious connections to help the church fight VAD law reform. He wrote:

“The man or woman in the street … may well be open to persuasion that permissive laws and practices cannot be effectively narrowed to such circumstances”; and

Keywords: Fearmonger | Flapdoodle | Filibuster | Flip-flop | Fudge | Fiction | Faith | Assisted dying (AD) | Australia

 

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Posted on Sunday 30th August 2020 at 9:13pm

Hobart Catholic Archbishop Julian Porteous makes a number of incorrect representations about voluntary assisted dying (VAD) in his recent Talking Points article (Hobart Mercury 23rd Aug). And, most of his own flock disagree with his opposed stance.

Hobart Catholic Archbishop Julian Porteous makes a number of incorrect representations about voluntary assisted dying (VAD) in his recent Talking Points article (Hobart Mercury 23rd Aug). And, most of his own flock disagree with his opposed stance.

Let's take a look at the facts, and the Archbishop's 'alternatives'.

NOTE: While The Hobart Mercury published Archbishop Porteous' arguments, they declined to publish this rebuttal.

Key points

  1. Archbishop Porteous wrongly equates VAD with general suicide and insinuates they are lonely deaths when they aren't.
  2. He claims that palliative care can always help, when palliative care peak bodies clearly state that it can't.
  3. He insensitively co-opts Covid-19 victims and their families into his arguments, despite them having nothing to do with VAD.

Keywords: Fearmonger | Fudge | Fiction | Faith | Australia | Tasmania | ANZSPM | Palliative Care Australia (PCA) | Religion | Catholic | Rhetoric: Palliative care can always help | Rhetoric: Suicide | Rhetoric: The 'vulnerable'

 

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Posted on Saturday 8th August 2020 at 8:39am

Support for voluntary assisted dying (VAD) in Australia continues to strengthen, including amongst religious Australians.

A recent article in The Guardian reports that most Queensland churchgoers support voluntary assisted dying (VAD), citing a recent YouGov poll commissioned by the Clem Jones Trust.

In fact, attitudes in support of VAD have been strengthening across Australia for many years, and the last few are no exception. In this analysis I explain, using impeccable Australian Election Study (AES) data gathered by a specialist team at Australian National University.

Each federal election, the AES gathers extensive demographic and attitudinal data from a substantial sample of Australians. That means we have comparable snapshots from each election in recent times, including 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010 and 2007 (though attitudes toward VAD have been asked only since 2016).

Keywords: Assisted dying (AD) | Australia | Religion | Non-religious | Christian | Anglican/Church of England/Episcopal | Catholic | Analysis | Legislative reform | Poll / survey | Statistics

 

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Posted on Friday 21st June 2019 at 10:00pm

The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney has released a grotesque and appalling video that blatantly misrepresents Belgium's non-voluntary euthanasia practices as being 'caused' by their voluntary assisted dying law. They're not.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney has released a video which blatantly misrepresents scholarly research about non-voluntary euthanasia practices in Belgium. The lead author of the peer-reviewed research has slammed the video as "cherry-picked", "scaremongering" and "appalling". His full statement about the video appears below.

 

Watch the 1 minute video here.

 

Keywords: Fearmonger | Fudge | Faith | Assisted dying (AD) | Non-voluntary euthanasia (NVE) | Australia | Belgium | Catholic | Claim response | Rhetoric: Slippery slope

 

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Posted on Tuesday 18th June 2019 at 7:00pm

Victoria's Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 has now come into effect, giving dying Victorians another choice at end of life.

Victoria's Voluntary Assisted Dying Act (2017) has now come into effect. Including 68 safeguards, the Act gives Victorians with a terminal illness another option to consider at end of life, if it is of interest to them. As overseas evidence shows, the possible choice of voluntary assisted dying provides comfort and relief for the terminally ill and their loved ones. It demonstrates that the State respects the wider range of alternatives that dying patients may choose to pursue when faced with intolerable and unrelievable suffering.

The Act contains what is arguably the world's most detailed and carefully laid out safeguards.


Key aspects of the provisions are:


  • The person must be 18 years or over; and
  • Be ordinarily resident in Victoria and an Australian citizen or permanent resident; and

Keywords: Assisted dying (AD) | Australia | Victoria | Legislative reform

 

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Posted on Thursday 23rd May 2019 at 2:39am

Plenty of Catholic propaganda is evident in Cabrini Health Palliative Care Director's "Palliative Care Week" editorial, opposing VAD for incoherent reasons.

Director of Palliative Care at Cabrini Health, Associate Professor Natasha Michael, yesterday published an opinion piece in The Age newspaper. In it, she rails against Victoria’s voluntary assisted dying (VAD) Act which comes into effect on 19th June. Instead she articulates an arrogant and prescriptive view of what Australians should and shouldn’t be allowed, consistent with Catholic dogma, as I uncover.


Michael, along with fellow devout Catholic Dr Stephen Parnis, ‘tirelessly’ opposed the introduction of Victoria’s VAD law. They continue to actively oppose it, and her opinion piece reveals her spurious ‘reasoning’.

The Catholic Healthcare brick wall


More than half of all palliative care services in Australia are delivered through Catholic institutions, of which Cabrini Health is one arm. These institutions have determined that VAD will not be available in any of their facilities or via any of their services, even if the individual patient and doctor are supportive.


This arbitrarily limits access to lawful choice by citizens.

Keywords: Fearmonger | Fudge | Assisted dying (AD) | Australia | Victoria | Catholic Church | Legislative reform | Lobbying: Opponents | Rhetoric: Killing | Rhetoric: Suicide

 

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Posted on Wednesday 10th April 2019 at 8:39pm

HOPE’s Director, Branka van der Linden, is at it again, foisting more misleading information on unwilling members of Parliament. I expose the rot and provide some background on Mrs van der Linden.

HOPE’s Director, Branka van der Linden, is at it again, foisting more misleading information about voluntary assisted dying (VAD) on unwilling members of Parliament. I expose the rot and provide some background on Mrs van der Linden.

Van der Linden’s latest email to all WA MPs states:

Subject: WA Report relies on troubling Belgian study

 
[MP Salutation] --

Did you know that a study showing that one person in Belgium is euthanised every three days without their explicit consent also found that:

Keywords: Fearmonger | Flapdoodle | Faith | Australia | Anthony Fisher | Paul Kelly | Paul Russell | Alex Schadenberg | Margaret Somerville | Branka van der Linden | Religion | Catholic | Claim response | Legislative reform | Lobbying: Opponents | Statistics | Rhetoric: The 'vulnerable'

 

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Posted on Tuesday 2nd April 2019 at 7:23pm

Anti-assisted-dying ginger group 'HOPE' continues to pedal egregious misinformation to politicians considering law reform: this time to Western Australian MPs.

The Catholic-backed anti-assisted-dying ginger group, HOPE, was represented for years by Paul Russell. He's retired and Branka van der Linden is now at the helm. But its penchant for pedaling egregious misinformation hasn't changed. Van der Linden recently sent an email to all WA members of parliament, containing three points.

Van der Linden's email reads:

 

Dear [MP salutation],

Did you know that the WA majority report that recommended assisted suicide for WA either dismissed or failed to report on the following statistics?

Keywords: Fearmonger | Flapdoodle | Fudge | Fiction | Faith | Belgium | Netherlands | Oregon | Branka van der Linden | Claim response | Legislative reform | Statistics | Rhetoric: Slippery slope | Rhetoric: The 'vulnerable'

 

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