In any election campaign euthanasia is usually an issue under debate just outside the main campaign of the major parties.ACL has long advocated
for valuing human life in a caring society and for the improvement of palliative care services. Legalising euthanasia is a unjust means of putting the onus on vulnerable people to prematurely end their lives.
The Australian Greens last week announced they will introduce legislation in the next parliament to legalise euthanasia. The following day, controversial euthanasia advocate Dr Phillip Nitschke argued in The Canberra Times
that euthanasia should be considered on the basis of economics; that granting older Australians the right to end their life would help relieve the health budget. Dr Nitschke is the co-founder of the new Voluntary Euthanasia Party and is standing as a candidate for the ACT Senate in the forthcoming election. The party's preferences will flow to the Greens.
The Greens' spokesman for health Senator Richard Di Natale said the party would base their euthanasia policy on a bill by its NSW Senate candidate Cate Faehrmann. Ms Faehrmann's bill was defeated 13 votes to 23 in the New South Wales upper house earlier this year when she was a member of that house. ACL welcomed this defeat
In light of these recent comments, director of anti-euthanasia group HOPE Paul Russell published an opinion piece
questioning the validity of the arguments put forth by the Greens and Dr Nitschke, including apparent safeguards to the initiative. These questions have become increasingly relevant as the federal election draws near, and as the parties deal with this issue.
Parliaments across Australia have repeatedly rejected legalised euthanasia; South Australia in 2009, 2010 and 2012, Tasmania in 2009, Victoria in 2008, and Western Australia in 2010. Throughout the debate, the ACL has run campaigns encouraging people to make a stand against legalising euthanasia by contacting their local MPs.
Dr Megan Best, a bioethicist and palliative care specialist, will be one of the panel guests in ACL's Make it Count 2013 Election Panel
webcast on Monday 2nd September. Author of the book Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
, her primary research interest lies in spirituality and suffering at the end of life.