Comedian and commentator Andrew Denton launched a new campaign to legalise euthanasia today.

The launch today by Andrew Denton of a new pro-euthanasia organisation will send a message that some lives are not worth living, warns the Australian Christian Lobby.

“With the significant advances in palliative care, the debate around euthanasia really needs to evolve to consider the ways in which people can be treated with dignity and care, rather than with a lethal substance,” ACL Managing director Lyle Shelton said.

Speaking after the National Press Club address by Andrew Denton, Mr Shelton, who was in the audience, said while many lobbying for the right for assisted suicide were well meaning, evidence from around the world shows the best intentions do not protect people who are vulnerable to being pressured into dying.

“They also do not prevent people who are not terminally ill accessing euthanasia, as is often seen in Belgium and Holland,” Mr Shelton said.

“It was disappointing that Mr Denton did not acknowledge this, despite repeatedly saying there was no slippery slope and that the laws there were working well.

“There are so many examples around the world which show that providing the ability to suicide puts undue pressure on vulnerable people such as those with disabilities, the very young or older citizens,” Mr Shelton said.

Mr Shelton said the ACL and its supporters understood and supported the aim of making end of life as comfortable as possible for those suffering pain.

“While ACL understands and shares the desire to see people relieved of their pain, this can be better achieved by taking advantage of the tremendous medical advances in palliative care,” Mr Shelton said.

“Mr Denton gave emotional examples of peoples’ suffering but what is not known is whether or not all of these people were denied modern palliative care.

“Palliative care is a more prudent and ethical way of ensuring a dignified death than public policy which is open to abuse and which unwittingly or wittingly puts pressure on the ill and vulnerable to end their lives.

“Even the title of Mr Denton’s podcast series, Better Off Dead, sends the wrong message to the disabled and the vulnerable.

“We should not send a message to vulnerable people, like the recent pro-euthanasia movie Me Before You, that some lives are not worth living.”

Mr Shelton said Mr Denton was too disdainful of parliamentarians who had looked closely through forensic parliamentary inquiries at the many euthanasia bills presented in recent years.

“It is not often you seen parliamentarians resist opinion polls with public support pegged around 80 per cent.  The fact they have repeatedly done this shows they have not been convinced by euthanasia adocates’ assertions that it can be made safe.

“Mr Denton’s chararcterisation of parliamentarians was simplistic and unfair.”

Mr Shelton said it was also too simplistic to say euthanasia was being blocked by religious groups because of “theocracy within democracy”.

“There is only democracy and the idea that a religious conspiracy was blocking euthanasia in Australia bestowed power beyond belief to people of faith.”

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