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ARTICLE: Tony Abbott has a surprising view on assisted suicide according to new documentary Fade to

HE’S known for his devout Catholic views, but former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has a surprising view on assisted suicide, according to a new documentary.

WHEN documentary maker Jeremy Ervine listened in on a dying man’s phone call with Tony Abbott, he was floored by some of the then-prime minister’s views.

Chief among them, Mr Ervine says, was Mr Abbott’s opinion that the law wouldn’t necessarily be used to punish people who take action to end the lives of suffering Australians.

“He believed that assisting a suicide — from a doctor’s point of view — is something that should remain between patients, doctors and their families. That it was a grey area of the law,” Mr Ervine told AAP.

“He said doctors are more than likely to be left alone by the law, as long as the people who are involved don’t make a political spectacle of it.”

Mr Abbott was on the phone to Shell Coles Express chief executive Peter Short, who used his terminal cancer diagnosis to campaign for assisted dying laws before he died in December 2014.

The call is featured in Mr Ervine’s new euthanasia documentary Fade to Black.

Mr Abbott does not appear on film.

And there’s no audio recording of the call.

But Mr Short, before he died, and Mr Ervine, since, have offered a shared view that the devout Catholic expressed a somewhat forgiving view about the consequences for people who help end the lives of the terminally ill.

Both say he maintained his philosophical opposition to euthanasia reforms, and said it would be regrettable if people helped end the lives of others.

“But he kind of said that if they’d gone to all this effort to break the law, it showed they were serious and genuine and not vulnerable to abuse.

“And the traditional Christian argument has been that if we legalise assisted dying, it will be open to abuse,” Mr Ervine said.

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