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MPs urge state’s citizens to act over euthanasia plans

Pro-life politicians including Liberal MP Kevin Conolly and Christian Democrat MLC Fred Nile have urged people to engage with their local MPs if they want to prevent assisted suicide becoming legal in New South Wales.

Last weekend the state’s deputy premier John Barilaro said he would support the extreme bill.

Just days before, Queensland passed its voluntary assisted dying legislation 61-30, leaving NSW the only state not to allow medical professionals to kill patients.

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Rev Fred Nile said it had been disappointing to see the Labor party members in Queensland “vote almost in a block, when it was supposed to have been a conscience vote”.

He said the proposed law in NSW is “not progressive legislation, it is regressive … It is taking society back to a darker and more brutal past,” he said.

“In all civilisations, the prohibition of intentional killing is a foundation of law. Euthanasia shatters that foundation of the law, it shatters the foundation of medicine, it violates the Hippocratic Oath … and introduces fear into the lives of the terminally ill, elderly and disabled.

“We must reject this bill, it has no real safeguards, there’s nothing stopping many of the depressed or lonely seeking this and we’re creating a society where we’re saying that people are disposable and their lives don’t matter.”

Worse than the last proposed laws

Mr Conolly said the NSW bill is “bad in principle and terrible in its form” and worse than the one the state’s parliament voted down in 2017.

“It has none of the protections that one would expect from a genuine attempt to placate or meet the needs of the broader community,” he said.

“There’s not been a community groundswell about this, it’s a politically orchestrated movement.” Mr Conolly said that people should let their leaders know if they oppose assisted suicide otherwise much of politicians’ information about the public’s attitudes come from polls and surveys provided by euthanasia supporters.

Rev. Fred Nile MLC

The civic leaders were speaking at an online Zoom webinar convened by Family Voice Australia on 20 September. University of Notre Dame Australia associate professor Megan Best also addressed the forum and provided an overview of the euthanasia and assisted suicide debate across the country.

Debate ‘plagued’ by confusing language

It has been characterised by emotional stories of bad deaths, and “plagued” by the use of euphemisms such as ‘voluntary assisted dying’, Dr Best said.

“The term voluntary assisted dying can mean many things and it is an unhelpful term because it obscures the true meaning of what we’re discussing,” she added. “I suggest we focus on how our parliamentarians can best protect the security of the community as is their responsibility.

“This debate is distracting us from work that needs to be done to improve the wellbeing of people in the last year of life.”

Experience of other jurisdictions had showed it was not possible to legislate safely for assisted suicide, while it was ‘immoral to even contemplate euthanasia when so much of regional NSW doesn’t have access to specialist palliative care,” Dr Best said.

Queensland Liberal MP Mark Robinson said it was additionally disappointing that none of the amendments proposed, including to protect the conscientious objections of individuals or organisations, were accepted. For example, while the new laws don’t force faith-based hospitals and aged care facilities to provide assisted suicide, they can’t stop it from occurring on their premises if a patient who is too ill to be moved to another place wishes to end their life there.

Mr Robinson also said he thought that the perceived fracturing of the medical community over the issue, when it is a large majority opposed, was critical to the loss in that state.

Under Alex Greenwich’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill, doctors in NSW would be allowed to suggest euthanasia to their patients, as long as information about treatment options and palliative care is also provided.

Mental illness, including a diagnosis of clinical depression, would not prevent a person from accessing euthanasia or assisted suicide and faith-based aged care facilities that object to euthanasia would still need to allow doctors and nurses on to the premises for every stage of the euthanasia process, including allowing them to enter and kill a patient on site.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP has warned the proposed laws contravene not only basic Christian principles, but also those followed for centuries by the medical profession as well.

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