Euthanasia clinic: A publicity stunt that muddies debate
Dr Phillip Nitschke’s pre-emptive move to set up a euthanasia clinic in Adelaide shows he has missed the purpose of the legislation before the Parliament.
The Criminal Law Consolidation (Medical Defences – End of Life Arrangements) Bill 2011 is purely aimed at giving a family doctor who has a long history with their patient the ability to use this legislation as a defence against a criminal charge should the medication given to their patient at the request of the patient result in the patient’s death.
The legislation does not legalise voluntary euthanasia. The legislation does not legalise assisted suicide.
Dr Nitschke’s move is merely a publicity move to continue to promote his aim to legalise voluntary euthanasia.
While I share Doctor Nitschke’s passion about individuals being given the right to choose when they die and to die with dignity this legislation is quite different from former and current attempts to legalise VE.
I am worried that what is a simple, sensible move to protect doctors is now being perceived by the public as another VE Bill. I would have liked Dr Nitschke to have spoken to Steph or me before his public moves particularly in my electorate of Morphett at Glenelg.
As a co-sponsor of this Bill I am now very concerned that there will be an avalanche of opposition created by the perceptions that Dr Nitschke’s move has driven.
That is that the perception that this Bill legalises VE or assisted suicide. It does neither. I am however still very optimistic that the Bill will pass and give family doctors the protection they deserve when caring for their patients.
I just appeal to my colleagues to canvas the collective conscience of their electorates and vote accordingly not as an individual but as their electorate representative.
In politics perceptions are reality.
Dr Nitschke has in my opinion unfortunately created the perception that this important legislation legalises VE and attempted suicide. It does neither and is a sensible move to protect the rights of doctors and their patients.
Dr Nitschke is a very prominent campaigner for VE and so he must be careful that he does not cause this Bill to fail by stirring up very strong sentiment on a false premise.
People should be aware that the intent of the Bill is to give family doctors treating terminally ill patients, patients of sound mind, who the doctor has a history of being the treating doctor, the ability to accede to the wishes of their patient to increase medication that in some circumstances may result in the death of their terminally ill patient.
If the patient dies then this Bill gives the doctor a legal defence against criminal charges if any charges are laid.
People and their representatives should also be aware of the overwhelming public support for the right to make choices about your treatment if you are terminally ill.
People who are opposed to this right being given to their fellow humans should accept the fact that we live in a secular multicultural society where the right to make choices about personal issues is fundamental to the democracy we live in.
If this Bill is blocked or fails the I firmly believe similar legislation will continue to appear on the notice paper in Parliament and the debate will continue.
I do not believe we can please all the people all the time but we live in a modern democracy. The fight for the right to choose and have a dignified death will continue.
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