Chiefly intervention on Euthanasia Bill

johnboy 4 November 2010 25

Mr Stanhope has informed us that he’s written to all Members of the Australian Parliament “urging them to pass the Restoring Territory Rights (Voluntary Euthanasia Legislation) Bill 2010”

“The debate at the heart of this Bill, which has been introduced by Senator Bob Brown, is about the rights of the ACT Legislative Assembly to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the community it serves,” Mr Stanhope said.

“The people of the ACT and the Northern Territory, along with their elected representatives, should have the same right as other Australians to debate the issue of voluntary euthanasia, and to legislate for themselves, if they so choose.

“What justice is there in the current situation, where a NSW Parliament or a Tasmanian Parliament may debate and legislate for euthanasia, but not a Territory Parliament?

*sobs* IT’S ALL SO UNFAIR!!!

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25 Responses to Chiefly intervention on Euthanasia Bill
cleo cleo 11:22 pm 05 Nov 10

Gungahlin A1

I fully understand where your coming from, my brother had cancer, it’s a horrible horrible thing to have, he lived in North Queensland, my sister said don’t come to see him he looks dreadful, but I did as that is what I wanted and he wanted, of course he was in so much pain and was told the pain would get worse as he had the worse type of cancer that caused the most pain, I just wish the doctor had not told him this, he refused to go into hospital, he wanted to die at home, he was still walking around, he was so brave, I feel that he got hold of something illegal to end his life, as he talked about suicide, I don’t blame him for that, if it were me I would have done the same, very hard to watch someone you love and grown up with die like this, he was my younger brother.

caf caf 11:17 pm 05 Nov 10

matt31221, if you reckon you have the cure for cancer, the world is all ears.

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 10:20 pm 05 Nov 10

All that horror illness you describe wouldn’t happen in the first place if it was cured or prevented before it began yeah? More emphasis on preventing, treating and curing instead of giving up and terminating life, that is all I am talking about. That is why I am saying that euthanasia leads to lazy medicine, an easy way out for the treating physician.

I am sorry if I upset you and you think I am callous but that is my opinion.

Matt, no amount of medicine will cure a terminal illness. That’s why they give it the name.

ashton ashton 8:19 pm 05 Nov 10

All that horror illness you describe wouldn’t happen in the first place if it was cured or prevented before it began yeah? More emphasis on preventing, treating and curing instead of giving up and terminating life, that is all I am talking about. That is why I am saying that euthanasia leads to lazy medicine, an easy way out for the treating physician.

I am sorry if I upset you and you think I am callous but that is my opinion.

You are hopelessly ignorant and naive if you think that medicine is omnipotent or will become so in the foreseeable future.

Thumper Thumper 6:30 pm 05 Nov 10

All that horror illness you describe wouldn’t happen in the first place if it was cured or prevented before it began yeah? More emphasis on preventing, treating and curing instead of giving up and terminating life, that is all I am talking about. That is why I am saying that euthanasia leads to lazy medicine, an easy way out for the treating physician.

My mum died a terribly painful death from cancer when she was in her late 40s. If I could have given an OD on morphine I would have.

Pork Hunt Pork Hunt 5:49 pm 05 Nov 10

Someone tell Matt that it’s not compuslory, you don’t have to take part in it.


(end rant and wipe spittle from chin)

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 12:11 am 05 Nov 10

No excuse for lazy medicine.

You are kidding right??

It is nothing to do with lazy. It is to do with the law. Doctors and nurses are risking jail if they do anything other than prescribe treatments that PROLONG life. Somehow it is OK to withdraw IV when the patient is clearly in their last few days, but how that can be coupled with inadequate pain and sedative management I cannot understand, other than one method being seen as allowing death and the other hastening it.

And there’s the difference – let your family say goodbye then a couple of days of no pain and no real awareness of what is going on. Versus days dragging on of racking pain, conscious most of the time, unable to sleep, eat, drink or clear the throat.

This debate always ends up talking about Nitske and his assisted suicide campaigning. I’m talking about merely allowing a smooth path for palliative care during the acknowledged final days, and any such laws can be so framed.

This is a serious issue. It isn’t about me – it is about all the thousands of victims and their families who have to die like this and live with this every year. So I am going to be clear on what we are talking about, because it seems it is too easy for some people to be callous about this most serious of issues, because they just don’t know.

Lung cancer: the tumour can close off a lung, leading to complete collapse. As described to me by the doctor, the lung is surrounded by a sac with lots of nerves so when it collapses, it leads to serious pain that doesn’t let up. Cancerous growths also lead to adhesions making movement painful. The pain and inability to sit makes it impossible to cough up or swallow saliva. Nurses stick suction down the throat but it is too deep for them to reach. It just sits there turning foul and increasing. They are drowning.

When they turn off the IV there is no longer any source of nutrition or fluid. Death is inevitable. Over several days the organs start dying. The body and face become bloated and turn jaundiced yellow – liver shutdown. The urine turns the colour of cola – kidneys are dead. As the brain starts dying, the hallucinations start. Parkinsons-like shaking grows. Inadequate handover between nurse shifts leads to gaps when pain meds wear off and replacement stocks are at hand. Likewise for sedatives. (What happens for someone alone without family there to try to remedy these problems??) The smell is like a mouse cage. Communication may be by number of eye blinks or head shakes. And all the while the racking but ineffective coughing of the fluid that just won’t shift.

You are constantly hoping (praying?) for THE doctor to come on shift who will write the magic words “unlimited” on the charts, and THE nurse who will ensure continuing comfort, or maybe chance going that little bit further. And shift after shift when they don’t come along, the desperation grows. You think seriously about putting a hand over her face and just holding her mouth and nose shut, as you would an animal you’ve hit with your car, just to end her pain. I put my hand over her face. But I couldn’t. And when she eventually goes, the final insult is that after days of not shifting, all that foul brown fluid just flows up and out, seemingly of its own accord.

So why is it legal to subject a person to this torture, but illegal to end the torture? If the edict of medical practice is to do no harm, then how can it be acceptable to allow such harm to continue?

This is all we need our laws to be able to allow. And to give the medical staff a degree of safety when they are doing the right thing, and with the family consent. Nothing more.

clp clp 10:05 pm 04 Nov 10

I work daily with cancer patients and I used to be in favour of Euthanasia – now I am not so certain. Anyone can currently write an advanced care directive which dictates what level of intervention they wish to have in their final days – you can request to be sedated or alert or whatever.
People always talk about dignity and mention things like crapping themselves – when you are well and with it this sounds like a terrible thing to happen – but when you are dying your perspective changes and you often don’t care that much about things you though you previously would have cared about.
Euthanasia laws are about protecting those who assist people in taking their own lives (given suicide isn’t illegal). There have been no sucessful prosecutions of medical staff intervening to end suffering and there aren’t likely to be either. Prosecutions are only sucessful when family members are involved and other family members get upset – I think legislating in favour of Euthanasia will not solve these family disputes.

I think people rightly want their family to have as pain free a death as possible and therefore should push for greater access to palliative care services and for earlier intervention with palliative care services. Legislating for Euthanasia will make no difference in this regard.

I happen to think Phillip Nietsche happens to be a scare-mongerer of the greatest kind.

I am not religious – I am pretty much left-wing on all social issues but having worked in the fields of chronic pain and cancer I have come to these conclusions over time.

enfoldeadgrrl enfoldeadgrrl 10:00 pm 04 Nov 10

I don’t see why allowing people to choose to die rather than be subjected to painful and often humiliating “life”-extending treatment is “lazy medicine”. If there is nothing more to be done, then there is nothing more to be done.

I understand that not everybody agrees or would want to be euthanased or see a loved one go that way, but I believe there should be a right to choose.

Like organ donation, it is extremely important to discuss one’s views/choice with one’s family and friends.

ashton ashton 10:00 pm 04 Nov 10

You can sugar coat it all you want mate, but that doesn’t change what it really is. And there is NO middle ground, is there? Because there is no going back from assisted suicide once it is done. It is lazy medicine, and apparently it hasn’t gone too well in your beloved Netherlands. I found heaps of articles that stated otherwise to what you claim in the Netherlands to cite one:

No excuse for lazy medicine.

It is lazy morality to force people to endure severe pain or debilitation for weeks, months, or even years, until they die naturally.
What is your excuse for the abhorrent cruelty that are our current laws?

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 6:07 pm 04 Nov 10

If they legalize Euthanasia, who’s not to say that it couldn’t be used for murder?
It is a hard issue but they have banned it for a good reason.

Slippery slope fallacy.
Clearly, because the law hasn’t yet been drafted, any hypothetical action taking place under the proposed (but still non-existent) will be used for achieving INSERT WORST CASE SCENARIO: END OF CIVILISATION AS WE KNOW IT and there is no such thing as ‘viable middle ground’.
Its been in place for almost a decade under their Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act and last I heard, the Netherlands wasn’t a smouldering ruin of despair and humans being treated like cattle in their health system.
See also: Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Croatia, Bosnia, and Japan.

dsblue55 dsblue55 2:25 pm 04 Nov 10

that’s just stating the obvious though… yeah the ACT isn’t a state.. and you’re right therefore that does mean it’s not treated like a state. But why not?

Our vote be it for Territory or Federal level essentially means less because we choose to live here. But if I moved a short way across the border to Queanbeyan my vote suddenly means more…

caf caf 2:23 pm 04 Nov 10

The principle of democractic self-determination doesn’t hinge on the technical definition of the place in which you live, though.

Otherwise, to simply take one example, you have to accept that the Chinese could just define away the entire issue of Tibet by saying “Tibet is a province not a country, therefore it gets treated like a province.”

dsblue55 dsblue55 2:15 pm 04 Nov 10

The issue of euthanasia aside – I object to the unequal treatment. We elected a government, to govern us. It proposes and passes laws, but the Commonwealth is able to step in at its discretion and overturn them if it disagrees with the laws. That’s something it can’t do (or is a lot harder for it do) with the states.

The states may be older and bigger (though not necessarily significantly i.e. Tasmania), but I don’t see why either of these reasons gives the Commonwealth government a green light to treat one group of people different by overruling the democratic process of one group, but not the other.


    johnboy johnboy 2:16 pm 04 Nov 10

    At the bottom of it though, the ACT is not a State. Things that are States get treated like States, things that are not do not.

Common Sense Common Sense 2:02 pm 04 Nov 10

Is this debate about State vs Territory rights or about euthanasia?

Why not have a reasoned debate about the appropriate powers the ACT Assembly should have without confusing it every time with emotive and divisive issues, this time euthanasia, last time gay marriage.

I assume also that JB’s comment “*sobs* IT’S ALL SO UNFAIR!!!” was in reference to territory rights rather than euthanasia and is therefore pretty harmless.

trix trix 1:56 pm 04 Nov 10

While I realise the sarcasm was directed at Mr Stanhope’s wittering on about the rights of a Territorial government and bawwing about the fact that real States have them, the *underlying* subject – which Mr Stanhope may or may not attempting to score points over – isn’t that funny.

Jim Jones Jim Jones 12:38 pm 04 Nov 10

busgirl said :

I’m with you on this one GA.


preacher preacher 12:21 pm 04 Nov 10

I’m with Al on this one. I’ve also seen a loved one suffer in pain from cancer, waste away on morphine, and then die with no dignity wearing adult diapers. The family unit suffers as well.
Al just represents one case. I’m sure a great percentage of your older readers can empathise as well.
And unless you end up unloved and alone, I suspect you will understand one day.

Your sarcasm is hurtful.

busgirl busgirl 12:14 pm 04 Nov 10

I’m with you on this one GA.

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 11:42 am 04 Nov 10

JB, this is one of those times I think you should have checked your sarcasm at the door.

Having last month sat for a week in a hospital room watching helplessly as my mother slowly drowned in her own saliva and in extreme pain from her cancers, while waiting for her organs to shut down after the IV was withdrawn, I am entirely with Jon Stanhope on this. And good on him for looking beyond party politics for the good of the people in ACT.

Until you’ve experienced the disgraceful situation of unnecessary pain and suffering that is forced on our loved ones during those last palliative days, by the inability to just crank up the pain and sedation meds (because it might kill them for pete’s sake!), you cannot appreciate how important it is for us to have such laws in place.

    johnboy johnboy 11:45 am 04 Nov 10

    Yes Al, because of your personal circumstances of which I am completely unaware I will change my editorial line.

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