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Euthanasia again?

By Greg Cornwell - 23 May 2017 5

Will our restrictive euthanasia law be revisited now the New South Wales parliament is introducing bipartisan legislation in August 2017?

In 1997 an independent MLA Michael Moore put forward the Medical Treatment Amendment Bill to the ACT Legislative Assembly to provide a form of euthanasia for Canberra. This bill was never debated because Kevin Andrews, a prominent Catholic Federal parliamentarian, countered with legislation which removed the right of the ACT and the Northern Territory to decide such law. This restriction still is in force.

In the 20 years since these developments community attitudes, perhaps because of heart-rending public stories of unnecessary extreme pain and suffering, have softened views and over 80 percent of people now favour a more compassionate and liberal approach to what often is called death with dignity.

While sympathetic to these opinions and supportive of repeal of the Andrew’s restrictions in the Territories I’m reluctant to see the ACT move to implement a euthanasia law, believing that it should be Australia-wide, decided by plebiscite or referendum. The ACT government in 2016 called for euthanasia laws to be returned for decision to our legislature but stopped short of introducing legislation.

The danger of Canberra becoming the death capital of Australia by the enthusiasm of local ‘progressives’ if legislation was brought forward has dramatically changed by the actions of the cross-party MP’s in the New South Wales parliament. Now we risk being isolated and, in a farcical situation, seeing our dying with dignity patients move to Queanbeyan to fulfil the residential requirements of the NSW law.

A plus for the NSW proposals, apart from the bipartisan approach, is that they are sensible and appear to have overcome some problems of past attempts. These include the person to have less than 12 months to live, be over 25 years of age, be assessed by three medical professionals, have a 48 hour cooling off period over the decision and self-administer the lethal dose. They have a chance of success.

Naturally, opposition can be expected from religious groups who have a fundamental objection to the right of a person to die in their own time if circumstances demand.

However a principal argument against euthanasia that unscrupulous relatives will kill off granny is overcome by the three doctors and the twelve months to live provisions, so one is left with a moral objection which is a personal belief and should not, for once, influence majority sentiments.

Perhaps too there will be less backroom pressure from the Commonwealth to this move in a major State, especially with its own issue of LGBTIQ.

Nevertheless one can expect arm-twisting to be applied to politicians though hopefully the consensus of the overwhelming majority of the public and a conscience vote should see the matter successfully resolved.

It is understood other States are considering euthanasia laws. They and the ACT would be well advised to adopt the NSW legislation in the interests of compassion and common sense so uniform laws could be established across the continent.

What do you think of Euthanasia legislation being introduced in the ACT to mirror that of the pending laws in NSW?

What’s Your opinion?


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5 Responses to
Euthanasia again?
Garfield 8:27 am 25 May 17

Lucy Baker said :

Garfield said :

Lucy Baker said :

Please don’t assume that it is only “far right religious groups” who have concerns about euthanasia.

Perhaps you could express some of those concerns? .

I don’t have a strong opinion about euthanasia. What concerns me is polarising a social issue in this way. As if there aren’t political conservatives who would support euthanasia! Just as Liberal women politicians are as least as pro choice as their Labor and Green counterparts.

I’m quite aware that there are religious social conservatives in Labor just as there are in the Liberals – that’s why Labor never introduced same sex marriage while they were in government. To be clear, I’ve voted Liberal for many years and regard myself as rather economically conservative – I’ve engaged in long arguments with people on this site regarding the failings of light rail in comparison to bus rapid transit. I am however a fan of government staying out of people lives as much as possible and am not a fan of those members of the Liberals who want to impose their own personal views on what are essentially private matters, so you could say that I’m rather libertarian on social issues.

In regards to local Liberal women and abortion, I’d suggest you ask Vicki Dunne, Guilia Jones and Elizabeth Kikkert if they’re pro choice. Just last week there was an article about Vicki Dunne tweeting in support of the defeat of an interstate bill that would have decriminalised abortion. She’s the ACT shadow health minister so imagine what could happen if she became the ACT health minister.

I did take a bit of a dig at the Liberals in my opening comment, however it was done because I want them to be more true to their stated values rather than being almost indistinguishable from Family First, the CDP and the ACL. To quote Menzies, the Liberal Party founder, “We took the name Liberal because we were determined to be a progressive party, willing to make experiments, in no sense reactionary but believing in the individual, his right and his enterprise, and rejecting the socialist panacea.” In recent years I’ve paid more attention to politics than I did in the past, and its getting harder to vote Liberal.

Lucy Baker 6:52 pm 24 May 17

Garfield said :

Lucy Baker said :

Please don’t assume that it is only “far right religious groups” who have concerns about euthanasia.

Perhaps you could express some of those concerns? .

I don’t have a strong opinion about euthanasia. What concerns me is polarising a social issue in this way. As if there aren’t political conservatives who would support euthanasia! Just as Liberal women politicians are as least as pro choice as their Labor and Green counterparts.

Garfield 8:24 am 24 May 17

Lucy Baker said :

Please don’t assume that it is only “far right religious groups” who have concerns about euthanasia.

Perhaps you could express some of those concerns? I personally am a believer in personal freedoms and people taking responsibility for their own actions. I’m hopefully still decades away from end of life decisions but in the case that I end up slowly dying while in extreme pain, I want to have the option to choose to end it after I’ve made sure my affairs are in order and I’ve said my goodbyes. As such, I support voluntary euthanasia for terminally ill people and the conditions being imposed in NSW seem to provide reasonable safeguards that it won’t be abused.

As far as I can tell the main objection seems to be the slippery slope argument, but that always has and always will be rather weak. Good governance is about exercising judgement and choosing where to draw the line. For example we all know that vehicles travelling at even relatively low speeds can kill pedestrians. If the slippery slope argument was applied to speed limits, we probably wouldn’t be allowed to exceed about 20 kmh on any road at any time. Similarly alcohol, cigarettes and contact sports would all be banned. At some point we need to let people make their own decisions and accept the responsibility for those decisions.

Lucy Baker 3:48 pm 23 May 17

Please don’t assume that it is only “far right religious groups” who have concerns about euthanasia.

Garfield 11:10 am 23 May 17

This issue highlights one of the fundamental problems with the Liberal party, which holds itself out as being for the individual and for minimising government interference in people’s lives. The many Christian conservatives in their ranks place their own religious beliefs ahead of allowing people to exercise their own free will in this area. They’re committed to telling people how to live their lives, or in this case end them.

Its a good thing to see the NSW Liberals acting on this issue and if that prompts the feds to repeal the Andrews Bill, that would be a positive step for the ACT & NT. Self government was imposed upon us, but in this area we’re not allowed to make our own decisions. In terms of ACT politics I fear it would give the local Liberals another chance to demonstrate that they’re out of step with the community and their own professed values.

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