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:: Care not Killing
::  what's all the fuss about? | the issues in brief

In brief:

  • A private members bill was tabled in Parliament on September 26, co-sponsored by Greens leader Nick McKim and Premier Lara Giddings. The bill is set to be debated in the Tasmanian lower house on the afternoon of Wednesday, 16th October.
  • A one-sided discussion paper was released in February. Over 900 submissions were made. ACL's submission is available here.
  • No report has as yet been forth-coming from the public submissions and there has been no information made public on the numbers of submissions supportive of/opposed to the legislation.
  • Write to your MP today about this important bill (see below for details).

For  many years, parliaments across Australia have repeatedly rejected legalised voluntary euthanasia - South Australia in 2009, 2010 and 2012, and Victoria in 2008, Western Australian 2010.

The last time euthanasia was debated in the Tasmanian Parliament was in 2009 when Greens MP Nick McKim’s Dying with Dignity Bill was resoundingly rejected 15 votes to 7.  

Australian parliaments have sent the strong, consistent message that euthanasia endangers the life of the vulnerable.

Despite this, Premier Lara Giddings and Nick McKim are behind a new move to introduce euthanasia into the Tasmanian Parliament. A discussion paper suggesting an assisted dying model of euthanasia was released on the 3rd February for public comment. ACL made a submission to that discussion paper, which you can read here.

The paper was not a discussion on whether euthanasia is a good idea but instead makes the assumption that it is and asks for feedback about the technical aspects of the proposed model. Although polling suggests 80% of people are in support of legalising euthanasia, the reality is there is much confusion around the issue, even about what actually constitutes euthanasia. This, coupled with the types of questions asked in such polls, has led to an inaccurate reflection of community sentiment on this important issue [1].

Some points to consider:

  • The majority of submissions to the 2009 inquiry were against legalising euthanasia.
  • Legalising euthanasia is state-sanctioned homicide. It opens a door that has never been open before – one that says it is acceptable to take someone else’s life.
  • Doctors, as healthcare providers, are expected to protect and promote life, not end life or encourage the ending of life.
  • In countries where legalisation has occurred there has been a gradual opening up of the criteria for who should be allowed to be euthanised [2].
  • Euthanasia sends a message to vulnerable sick and elderly people that terminating your own life is an acceptable option.
  • Euthanasia also sends the message to the vulnerable that terminating your own life is a better option than becoming a “burden” on family and friends.
  • Legalising euthanasia has led to lives being terminated without people’s consent [3].
  • Legalising euthanasia sends a confusing message to a society which does all it can to dissuade suicide. Tasmania currently has the second highest suicide rate in Australia [4].

A short euthanasia brief by the ACL is available here.

Get informed about this issue by clicking "more info" below.

For an overview of all the issues visit Real Dignity Tas.

Let your MPs know you value life in all circumstances by sending a short email.

 

References:

[1] See for example, Defining euthanasia

[2] Pereira J ( 2011) Legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide: the illusion of safeguards and controls, Current Oncology, 18(2), e38-e45

[3] Onwuteaka-Philipsen BD et al (2003) Euthanasia and other end-of-life decisions in the Netherlands in 1990, 1995, and 2001, The Lancet, 362, 395-399

van der Heide A et al (2007) End-of-Life Practices in the Netherlands under the Euthanasia Act, New England Journal of Medicine, 356, 1957-1965

[4] Australian Bureau of Statistics (2012, November 2), 3309.0 – Suicides, Australia, 2010

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