NSW lawmakers today began debating a bill that would legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide. Introduced by the NSW Greens, the bill is largely based on the Northern Territory’s Rights of the Terminally Ill Act which was overturned by the federal parliament in 1997.

The debate was passionate. A number of (Members of Legislative Council) MLCs were moved to tears as they drew on their own family experiences with pain and suffering. Many MLCs referred to the large number of emails they had received asking them to vote against the bill. Labor MLC Walt Secord explained that while he once supported euthanasia his views had changed after working as a Chief of Staff to the Minister for Ageing.

The Australian Christian Lobby has been calling on people to speak out against the bill. NSW Director David Hutt said legalising euthanasia would put many vulnerable people at risk. “Legalising euthanasia will exacerbate human suffering, not alleviate it,” he said.

“There are no protections in this bill for people who are depressed or disabled as a result of a terminal illness. Depression and terminal illness often go hand-in-hand. Yet depression is treatable.

“Legalising euthanasia would increase the community’s knowledge of suicide techniques. It would also require that doctors be retrained so they can kill their patients.

“Euthanasia distorts the relationship people have with their doctor and health professionals.”

Mr Hutt also spoke to the Political Spot’s Katherine Spackman earlier this week. The interview can be found here.

People wanting to email members of the Legislative Council can do so by visiting www.makeastand.org.au

Debate on the bill is expected to resume on Thursday 23 May 2013.