Assisted suicide still illegal in Australia

Euthanasia narrowly defeated in South Australia parliament

Euthanasia remains illegal in all Australian states after a Death with Dignity Bill was narrowly defeated in the South Australian parliament last week.

In a marathon seating, members spent five hours debating each line of the proposed legislation, which would have allowed terminally ill people to request voluntary euthanasia in certain circumstances. The debate culminated in a vote at 4am on Thursday morning, and the bill was defeated 24-23, with speaker of the house Michael Atkinson casting the deciding vote.

“…we can find better ways to deal with the suffering which do not draw us into providing state-sanctioned killing.” – Lyle Shelton

The decision has been welcomed by Christian advocacy groups Family Voice Australia and the Australian Christian Lobby.

Director of the ACL, Lyle Shelton, said in a press release, “As a just and compassionate society we can find better ways to deal with the suffering which do not draw us into providing state-sanctioned killing.

“Palliative care is a more prudent and ethical way of ensuring a dignified death.” – Lyle Shelton

“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,” Shelton said.

“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.”

Euthanasia has now been defeated in South Australia 15 times. It is unlikely that the issue will come before the South Australian parliament again before the next election in March 2018.

According to The Australian, advocates of euthanasia will now turn their attention to Victoria where, on December 9, Premier Daniel Andrews is due to announce his response to a cross-party parliamentary enquiry that recommended the Victorian Government legalise assisted dying for people suffering from serious and incurable conditions.

A bill to legalise euthanasia in Tasmania was defeated in 2013, but Labor MP and former premier Lara Giddings is planning a fresh bill to introduce voluntary-assisted dying laws. She is still looking for a Liberal MP to co-sponsor the bill.

In Queensland, speaker of the house Peter Wellington has called for a parliamentary enquiry into the issue, but the government has not committed to complete one. Mr Wellington is seeking an inquiry similar to the Victorian Legislative Council inquiry handed down in June 2016. He will ask the committee if it would “consider and report on the need for laws in Queensland, to allow citizens to make informed decisions regarding their own end-of-life choices.”

Pro-euthanasia MPs from three Western Australian political parties (Former federal Member for Perth Alannah MacTiernan, now preselected for a state seat, Liberal MP and former Seniors Minister Tony Simpson and Greens MP Robin Chapple) have joined forces to write legislation and make it a high priority in the next state election in March next year.

New South Wales is the only state not actively discussing the issue.

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