A FEW weeks back, veteran British writer and social commentator Kathleen Whitehorn, a guest on Radio 4’s A Point of View, spoke in support of voluntary euthanasia. I have posted a recording here.
She concluded a powerful argument by saying:
I used to have a sort of Hollywood vision of my deathbed. I would lie on my pillows, pale but brave, and forgive my enemies on the grounds that nothing would infuriate them more. I know now that I am more likely to be half-senile in hospital, hung about with tubes and drips, confused and hurting. It may be very difficult to form a law that would give me an easy death, but I just hope they manage it before it’s my time to go.
Whitehorn, 80, I imagine, is as furious as I am that proposed legislation giving terminally ill people the right to die with the help of a doctor has just been rejected in Australia.
Last week the upper house of the Victorian Parliament voted down a private member’s bill — 25 votes to 13 — following months of passionate and emotional debate from MPs.
According to The Age, the euthanasia legislation, which was co-sponsored by Greens MP Colleen Hartland and Liberal MP Ken Smith, won the support of the Greens as well as Environment Minister Gavin Jennings and former Liberal upper house leader Philip Davis.
After the vote, Ms Hartland expressed disappointment at the bill’s defeat, saying euthanasia was happening all the time, with doctors assisting people to die.
All MPs had a conscience vote on the Medical Treatment (Physician Assisted Dying) Bill, which would have given mentally competent adults suffering from terminal illnesses the right to ask a doctor to help them die. Liberal Philip Davis backed the bill, saying if fits in with the fundamental belief in “the right of a human being to make their own choices before their own God”.
From the moment the bill was first proposed, Christian organisations across Australia mobilised against it, trotting out the same old tired nonsense that only God has the right to decide when a life should end.”
The Australian Christian Lobby welcomed the defeat of the bill as:
A victory for those who value life.
The group’s director Rob Ward said:
The Victorian upper house politicians who voted against this bill should be proud of the role they have played in safeguarding our state from the travesty of turning doctors from carers into killers.