Sign now: Send a thank-you message to NSW MLC who voted against euthanasia and assisted suicide
In the early hours of Friday morning, a long debate ended in the NSW Legislative Council when a conscience vote was called on the proposed Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017. The vote resulted in a narrow defeat against the Bill by one single vote (19-20). Please join us in sending a message of thanks to those members of the Legislative Council who fought hard over the last number of weeks to stand up for the value of all human life.
The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017 was a result of two years of ‘public consultation’ of a Working Group that was established Nationals Member of the Legislative Council (MLC), Mr Trevor Khan. The objectivity of this working group has been questioned however as it appears from the outset that the intention of the working group was to draft legislation rather than be an independent exploration of these issues and a real consideration of ways to improve end of life care. The Hon Greg Donnelly MLC raised his concerns on the record about the working party in last week’s debate suggesting the extent of public consultation was also dubious. It is unclear how ‘open-minded’ the working group was to hearing from for example palliative care experts and the need to expand palliative care services, particularly in rural NSW.
As a result of the Working Group, in early August, notice was given in the NSW Legislative Council of The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017 and the formal debate began when Mr Trevor Khan initiated the bill in Parliament in late September. The Bill then came to debate in Parliament after its second reading last week.
The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017 proposed to allow terminally ill patients over the age of 25 and who would be expected to die within 12 months due to their illnesses, to end their own lives with medical assistance. The Bill also attempted to create ‘safeguards’ such as:
That a patient must be:
- A New South Wales resident to avoid issues related to medical tourism;
- Experiencing severe pain, suffering or physical incapacity to an extent deemed unacceptable to the patient;
- Be assessed and signed off by two medical practitioners.
If selected through this process, patients would then be allowed to self-administer a lethal substance to end their lives, but they could also be assisted by a medical practitioner or nominated person.
The long debate in Parliament last week reflected the seriousness of the implications of the legislation. Clearly, members demonstrated considerable care about the physical and psychological suffering that some people experience when living with an incurable condition, but in the end the deep concerns about the unintended consequences and wider implications of ‘assisted dying’ legislation led the legislation to be voted down.
Deputy leader of the Opposition, the Hon Walt Secord MLC was one of the many MPs who raised concerns in relation to ‘safeguards,’ highlighting that the introduction of legalised assisted suicide and euthanasia will lead to the killing of people whom the law never intended to die.
“I have not yet seen—I do not believe it is possible to develop—adequate legislative safeguards to protect people from the misuse of these laws. I have not seen a legislative model in this area that cannot be exploited or manipulated. I cannot support any gaps for exploitation when the consequences are so final. Furthermore, I agree with former Prime Minister Paul Keating. On 20 October he warned that protections for the most vulnerable of all people—those in the end stages of life—were highly problematic. He said:
… the advocates support a bill to authorise termination of life in the name of compassion, while at the same time claiming they can guarantee the protection of the vulnerable, the depressed and the poor. No law and no process can achieve that objective.”
Liberal Party MLC Hon. Catherine Cusack stated that: “This bill is a Trojan that will change our values and expectations in a way that civilised Australians do not anticipate and most definitely will not like. Indeed, it has never been more important to resist emotional temptations urging us down that track. We are living in an era of profound technological change. It is transforming work, medicine, communications, the economy and society itself. It challenges our fundamental moral beliefs and I want to shout from the hilltops that now is the time of greatest risk to a civilised future.”
We should not be so naïve that proposing parameters or limitations on the law will not have the same result as we have seen in many other countries where legislation was introduced. It is clear in these places the application of euthanasia and assisted suicide has continued to widen and the role of medicine and health professionals dramatically changes as the intentional ending of a person’s life, becomes “a societal mandated good.”
Following the result of the debate, Mr Khan told the media that the “fight isn’t over” yet and that he would look to reintroduce a bill in the next term of Parliament in 2019. Advocates for euthanasia and assisted suicide are not going away. We need to continue to encourage our Members of Parliament to stand strong for our communities and the most vulnerable.
Please join us now in thanking those members who voted against this legislation who are listed below. You also can send your own message of thanks when you sign the petition. We will collect the signatures together and send these on to the members collectively next week.
Members who voted against the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017:
- Amato, Mr L
- Borsak, Mr R
- Brown, Mr R
- Clarke, Mr D
- Colless, Mr R
- Cusack, Ms C
- Donnelly, Mr G
- Farlow, Mr S
- Green, Mr P
- Harwin, Mr D
- Houssos, Ms C
- MacDonald, Mr S
- Maclaren-Jones, Ms N (teller)
- Martin, Mr T
- Mason-Cox, Mr M
- Mookhey, Mr D
- Moselmane, Mr S (teller)
- Nile, Reverend F
- Secord, Mr W
- Wong, Mr E
Sign this petition now!
Thank You for opposing The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017