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Euthanasia Push Continues

Coalition for the Defence of Human Life

Bills to legalise euthanasia are currently being foreshad- owed in Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia while Greens Senator Richard Di Natale’s Restoring Ter- ritory Rights (Voluntary Euthanasia Legislation) Bill 2012, which is currently before the Senate, would give the three territories (the Northern Territory, the Australian Capi- tal Territory and Norfolk Island) power to make laws allowing euthanasia.

The Northern Territory’s deadly experiment with eutha- nasia was brought to an end on 27 March 1997 when the Euthanasia Laws Act 1997 came into effect amending the self-government acts of the three territories to remove any power they had to make laws permitting euthanasia. In Tasmania the Labor Premier Lara Gidding and the Greens leader Nick McKim have released a discussion paper proposing legalised euthanasia for Tasmania. The paper selectively cites sources to claim that international experience with euthanasia indicates that euthanasia can be safely legalised.

Meanwhile in Belgium, where euthanasia was legalised in 2002, the evidence that euthanasia is out of control continues to mount:

  • Annual deaths from legal euthanasia have increased over sixfold (609%) from 235 in 2003 to1432 in 2012;
  • In Flanders in 2007 nearly one in three (31.73%) euthanasia deaths were without an explicit request from the patient;
  • In 12% of cases with an explicit request and 45% of cases with no explicit request the lethal drugs were administered by a nurse despite the law requiring that only doctors perform euthanasia;
  • Belgium allows organ donation following death by euthanasia. One such case involved a 52 year old woman given euthanasia to relieve her suffering from a mental disorder which led her to self-harm or automutilation;
  • In December 2012 identical twins were euthanased to relieve their distress at being diagnosed with progressive loss of vision;
  • In the same month a 44 year old woman known as Ann G was euthanased to relieve her mental suffering from an- orexia and from being sexually abused by her treating psy- chiatrist as a teenager;
  • In January 2013 the Socialist Party introduced a bill to amend the euthanasia law to allow children “with discernment” to request euthanasia.

If this is not a slippery slope, then what is?

In Western Australia Labor leader and contender to be our next Premier, Mark McGowan announced on 6 Febru- ary 2013 that if no other MP introduced a bill to legalise euthanasia in the next Parliament then he would do so. His announcement came the day after the West Australian reported on the suicide of Barbara Harrison who had multiple sclerosis. Richard Egan submitted a complaint to the Inde- pendent Media Council objecting to the West’s report on Ms Harrison’s suicide, claiming that the report breached the Code of Conduct provisions which exclude any detailed description of the method used in a suicide. The restrictions on reporting suicides were adopted by media in the light of evidence for the so-called Werther effect where prominently reported suicides are followed by a series of copycat suicides.

There is evidence from Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine data that suicides (including suicides of young people and others with no terminal illness) by the drug Nem- butal have increased following Dr Phillip Nitschke’s pro- motion of this method. On 12 February 2013 the Indepen- dent Media Council upheld the complaint and found that in its reporting of the details of the method used by Ms Harrison to commit suicide the West Australian had breached the Code of Conduct. Prolifers will need to respond vigor- ously to these moves to introduce legalised euthanasia to ensure that members of parliament are properly informed about the dangers of such legislation.

Important action

Write or email your Senators opposing the "Restoring Territory Rights (Voluntary Euthanasia Legislation) Bill 2012 and ask them to vote against it. By mail: Senators address is Parliament House, Canberra, ACT 2600.

Email: senator, e.g.

Victoria: Richard Di Natale; Kim Carr, Jacinta Collins, Stephen Conroy, David Feeney, Mitchell Fifield, Helen Kroger; Bridget McKenzie; John Madigan; Gavin Marshall; Michael Ronaldson; Scott Ryan

N.S.W: Robert Carr, Douglas Cameron, Arthur Sinodinos, John Faulkner, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells; William Heffernan, Fiona Nash, Marise Payne, Lee Rhiannon, Ursula Stephens, Matthew Thistlethwaite, John Williams.

A.C.T: Gary Humphries, Kate Lundy

N.T: Patricia Crossin, Nigel Scullion

Qld: Ronald Boswell; Suzanne Boyce; George Brandis; Mark Furner, John Higg; Barnaby Joyce; Joseph Ludwig; Ian McDonald; Ian McLucas; Brett Mason; Claire Moore; Larissa Waters

S.A: Cory Bernardi; Simon Birmingham; Sean Edwards; Donald Farrell; David Fawcett; Alexander Gallacher, Anne Ruston, Sarah Hanson-Young; Anne McEwan; Penny Wong; Penelope Wright; Nicholas Xenophon

Tas: Eric Abetz; Catryna Bilyk; Carol Brown; Robert Brown; David Bushby; Richard Colbeck; Christine Milne; Stephen Parry; Helen Polley; Lisa Singh; Nicholas Sherry; Anne Urquhart

W.A: Christopher Back; Thomas Bishop; Michaela Cash; Mathias Cormann; Alan Eggleston; Christopher Evans; David Johnston; Scott Ludlam; Louise Pratt; Rachel Siewert, Glenn Steele, Dean Smith

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