Euthanasia fails again

Euthanasia fails again image

A recent move to legalise euthanasia in the NSW State Parliament was resoundingly defeated.

The Rights of the Terminally Ill Bill 2013 was promoted by the Greens in the Legislative Council (Upper House) and underpinned by a highly-organised and well-funded campaign. The final vote was Ayes 13, Noes 23, an overwhelming result for the protection of the vulnerable.

This is not the first time that the NSW Parliament has faced the euthanasia debate. The same is true of other state parliaments, where euthanasia advocates and MPs continue promoting bills again and again and again. They are supported by a massive $5m war-chest based in Queensland, created by the estate of the late Clem Jones, who was a well-known political figure in the Sunshine State (see here).

Through this blog I want to name and thank those Members of the Legislative Council (MLCs) who voted against the bill:

The Hon. John Ajaka (Liberal Party)

The Hon. Robert Borsak (Shooters and Fishers Party)

The Hon. Robert Brown (Shooters and FishersParty)

The Hon. David Clarke (Liberal Party)

The Hon. Richard Colless (TheNationals)

The Hon. Sophie Cotsis (Australian Labor Party)

The Hon. Catherine Cusack (Liberal Party)

The Hon. Greg Donnelly (Australian Labor Party)

The Hon. Marie Ficarra (Liberal Party)

The Hon. Luke Foley (Australian LaborParty)

The Hon. Michael Gallacher (Liberal Party)

The Hon. Jenny Gardiner (TheNationals)

The Hon. Duncan Gay (TheNationals)

The Hon. Paul Green (Christian Democratic Party)

The Hon. Charlie Lynn (Liberal Party)

The Hon. Scott MacDonald (Liberal Party)

The Hon. Natasha Maclaren-Jones (Liberal Party)

The Hon. Matthew Mason-Cox (Liberal Party)

The Hon. Sarah Mitchell (The Nationals)

The Hon. Shaoquett Moselmane (Australian Labor Party)

The Hon. Revd Mr Fred Nile (Christian Democratic Party)

The Hon. Melinda Pavey (The Nationals)

The Hon. Walt Secord (Australian Labor Party)

Not one Coalition MLC voted in favour and a number of ALP members also voted against it. Amazingly, Greens MLC Cate Faehrmann who promoted the bill claimed Coalition parliamentarians who voted No had been ‘pressured’ and could not have voted according to conscience.

What this statement fails to recognise is that the euthanasia debate has been around for a very long time. As a result, many members of parliament on all sides are across the complexity of the issue.

My experience with euthanasia politics is that the longer people consider the implications of legalising suicide,the dangers of such a policy become increasingly apparent. It is impossible to implement legislative safeguards to protect the elderly, disabled and vulnerable from greedy relatives. A change in legislation will gradually shift community attitudes, and in time pressure will grow on the dying and very ill to ‘cease being a burden’ and save valuable health dollars. Moreover, it will change the doctor-patient relationship forever. For a Christian perspective, see here.

Changing public policy is not about the emotional individual stories of people who are facing difficult and painful illnesses. We heard those again in this recent campaign. I respect the reality that many are struggling and need help.These people should be cared for, loved and uplifted by the medical system, families and the broader community.

The fact that the Greens MLC who promoted the Bill is leaving the State Upper House to contest the forthcoming Senate election on 14 September places this euthanasia campaign in a much harsher light. We look forward to her contribution on jobs, homelessness and other issues at the forefront of political debate.

Well done to those MLCs who stood up for the vulnerable. We pray that those who are suffering get the love and care they desperately need and want, and that this debate highlights the need for good palliative care services.

Dr Karin Sowada is currently CEO of the Anglican Deaconess Ministries Ltd. She served as a Senator in the Commonwealth Parliament from 1991-93 and is a member of the Diocesan Social Issues Executive. Karin is also an archaeologist specialising in ancient Egypt.

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