Emotional euthanasia debate in parliament
Posted on 06/29/19 4:05 PM
Senators have emotionally remembered watching the painful deaths of terminally ill loved ones in a passionate debate about territories’ rights to make euthanasia laws.
The upper house is continuing to debate whether to restore the power of the ACT and NT to legalise assisted dying.
Labor senator Jenny McAllister tearfully spoke about her two grandmothers, who both died after long battles with dementia.
“These experiences have certainly shaped my own views about the end of life and the way that we support those who are dying,” Senator McAllister told parliament on Tuesday.
While she acknowledged the bill before parliament was about territories’ rights, she outlined her support for voluntary assisted dying in some circumstances.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young was also moved to tears as she remembered her friend and mother-of-two Susie, who died of breast cancer.
“I hope for those two little girls that, beyond Susie’s pain and suffering, they can remember her as the loving, healthy and active mum that she was long before she got sick,” Senator Hanson-Young said.
Conservative Liberal senator Eric Abetz gave an impassioned speech opposing crossbencher David Leyonhjelm’s private bill.
“It shows a complete disregard of the general basic ethical foundations of our society, where every single life is valued,” the Tasmanian senator said.
ACT Liberal senator Zed Seselja will also vote against it when it comes before the lower house.
He fears it will lead to assisted suicide with minimal safeguards becoming legal in the ACT.
Senator Leyonhjelm believes his bill has enough support to get through, but it will still require the approval of the lower house before becoming law, which looks unlikely.
Nationals senator John Williams said he took offence to the term “dying with dignity”.
He remembered his father’s death from cancer at home, saying he supported making people’s last days comfortable with drugs.
“I believe that where there is life there is hope,” Senator Williams said.
Greens senator Janet Rice and Labor’s Sue Lines both spoke in support of the bill, also telling stories of loved ones who died of illness.
Senator Leyonhjelm’s legislation aims to repeal Liberal MP Kevin Andrews’ successful 1997 private bill banning territories from ruling on voluntary euthanasia.
Mr Andrews says he’s been assured by the government’s Leader of the House, Christopher Pyne, the bill won’t be voted on in the chamber.
Labor wants a joint parliamentary committee to investigate the bill if it gets through the Senate, with the terms of reference to be decided once it passes.
Lifeline 13 11 14
beyondblue 1300 22 4636