euthanasia Bill defeated
by Dwight A. Randall
In the last two editions of Life News, we warned our readers about Robin Chapple’s dangerous Voluntary Euthanasia Bill 2010. We warned that the Bill would permit any medical practitioner to give a lethal substance to a person who may have had years to live, or who may be suffering from depression, but who is not referred to a psychiatrist for assessment, let alone effective treatment.
We warned that the Bill would force doctors to lie by requiring them to list on death certificates the cause of death, not as lethal injection, but as the underlying cause from which the patient supposedly would have died within two years! We warned that the Bill would corrupt doctors, that it would corrupt medicine, that it would corrupt record keeping, and that it would corrupt government. But, most alarmingly, we warned that it would place vulnerable people at risk of medicalised homicide, and therefore we urged our readers to strongly oppose it.
The Bill was debated at length in the Legislative Council over two days (21-22 September). While some members spoke in favour ofthe Bill, many spoke against it. Some of the more salient commentsof the Bill’s opponents are recorded below.
The Hon Nick Goiran (Liberal, South Metropolitan), who played a vital role in opposing the Voluntary Euthanasia Bill, rose to speak first. At one point he referred to the killing of patients who had not requested euthanasia.
He said, “since euthanasia became widely tolerated in the Netherlands and despite so-called precise guidelines, thousands of patients have had their lives intentionally shortened without an explicit request.
In many cases, euthanasia has been applied even though alternatives were available and the patient’s suffering was not unbearable.”
Furthermore, he added, “It is a concern that over the years the Netherlands has moved from assisted suicide to euthanasia; from euthanasia for people who are terminally ill to euthanasia for those who are chronically ill; from euthanasia for physical illness to euthanasia for psychological distress; and from voluntary euthanasia to involuntary euthanasia.” He went on to cite a specific case where the Dutch Supreme Court “upheld the assisted suicide of the non-terminal, supporting the death of an otherwise healthy 51-year-old woman who was clinically depressed.”
Nick Goiran questioned whether the restrictions in Robin Chapple’s Bill were adequate, or indeed if they were inserted, at least in part, merely to get the law passed through the Parliament, with a view to amending and broadening it at a later date. He said, “When Hon Robin Chapple concludes this debate at some point in the next few days, I would like him to explain the following comments that he made in WAVES News [West Australian Voluntary Euthanasia Society] in February 2010, ‘I realise this is a very restrictive Bill. However, it was my intention to draft a restrictive Bill. This is because a restrictive law has the best chance of being passed by the current Western Australian Parliament. I know many readers will be disappointed that this Bill does not go further, does not apply to more people and does not allow for administration of euthanasia by a person other than a medical practitioner. But this law is a good start, and a step in the right direction.’
Nick Goiran continued, “I would like Hon Robin Chapple, when he responds to this debate, to explain what he means when he says that this law is a good start and a step in the right direction.”
The Hon Ljiljanna Ravlich (Labor East Metropolitan), who supported the passage of the Acts Amendment (Abortion) Bill 1998, is to be commended for her adamant opposition to Robin Chapple’s Euthanasia Bill.
She said, “I do have a problem in that this Bill enables assistance to be provided for an individual to take his or her life. I thought Philip Nitschke’s comments in Andrew Denton’s program, Enough Rope, around June 2009, were breathtaking. I will quote an article in The West Australian on Wednesday 24 June 2009, which reads, ‘In Andrew Denton’s program Enough Rope, Philip Nitschke, the euthanasia advocate, said that the four times he assisted at a voluntary euthanasia, the days following were the worst of his life.’ This is what Philip Nitschke says, and he actually supports euthanasia! He had assisted four times, and he said that the days following were the worst of his life, and that he felt depressed and unsettled.
“The article goes on to state, ‘The British Voluntary Euthanasia Society’s own research indicates that within 12 months of being present at an assisted suicide, a quarter of those people themselves attempted suicide.’ I am quoting what is reported here. Then it goes on to ask ‘Why is that?’ The article continues, ‘Would you not think that doing something you passionately believe in, and that you think is right, would bring a sense of joy, relief and happiness? Perhaps their negative reaction occurs because we instinctively know that the deliberate killing of another human being is intrinsically evil.’”
The Hon Liz Behjat (Liberal, North Metropolitan) focused on the topic of dying with dignity. Liz Behjat said, “Another point that people seem to raise around this argument is … dying with dignity, the loss of dignity, and being worried about what will happen when their time comes. I think that is something that can be taken care of in not only palliative care, but also all medical care.”
She cited her own experience, “Unfortunately, I have been critically ill in intensive care on two occasions, and on one occasion I was, perhaps, not expected to survive. During that time I suppose there would have been what I would have termed as a loss of my dignity, being the need for other people to help me with my bodily functions, which are obviously the most personal things. Nobody wants to be in that position; however, anyone who has been through it once understands how wonderful the people are who care for us in those circumstances. Those people can help the patient in the most dignified way, without the loss of dignity. It really is perhaps just a perception. I wanted to place that on record as well.”
The Hon Helen Bullock (Labor, Mining and Pastoral) was focused and brief. Her entire speech consisted of these words, “The Voluntary Euthanasia Bill raises the question of whether our election to Parliament gives us the right to sanction the killing of other human beings in circumstances other than self-defence or the defence of the nation. This is not a difficult question. The answer is simple. No. We do not have such a right. We do not have the right to sanction the killing of our fellow human beings. For that reason alone,
I oppose the Bill.” With that, she sat down.
The Hon Michael Mischin (Liberal, North Metropolitan) raised a salient objection to the Bill: “The bill does not require any psychiatrist assessment. It requires a medical practitioner to inform the patient of the avenues for counselling, but it does not require it [ie, counselling]. If someone of sound mind were to ring a helpline or go to a doctor’s surgery and say, “I want to kill myself”, the doctor would refer the person to counselling before going further. The doctor would urge the patient to take action to look out for his interests and mental wellbeing to overcome his despair and to analyse his reasons for wanting to do that. This bill does not require any of that.”
At 11:25 pm on Wednesday, 22ndSeptember Robin Chapple stood to make his summary statements, and concluded at 12:40 am on Thursday morning. Andrew Lansdown and I were present in the gallery, along with several others (Richard Egan, Ted Watt, Brad Taylor and Colyn Lansdown) who opposed the Bill. Not one member of WAVES remained to the end, perhaps an indication of their need for sleep and an indictment of their lack of conviction to see the legislation through.
The question was then put that the Voluntary Euthanasia Bill 2010 be read a second time and a division was called for with the following result:
Hon Robin Chapple, Hon Jon Ford, Hon Linda Savage, Hon Alison Xamon, Hon Sue Ellery, Hon Philip Gardiner, Hon Sally Talbot, Hon Giz Watson (Teller),Hon Adele Farina, Hon Lynn MacLaren, and Hon Ken Travers.
Hon Liz Behjat, Hon Ed Dermer, Hon Nick Goiran, Hon Norman Moore, Hon Matt Benson-Lidholm, Hon Kate Doust, Hon Nigel Hallett, Hon Helen Morton, Hon Helen Bullock, Hon Wendy Duncan, Hon Alyssa Hayden, Hon Simon O’Brien, Hon Jim Chown, Hon Phil Edman, Hon Col Holt, Hon Ljiljanna Ravlich, Hon Peter Collier, Hon Brian Ellis, Hon Robyn McSweeney, Hon Max Trenorden, Hon Mia Davies, Hon Donna Faragher, Hon Michael Mischin, and Hon Ken Baston (Teller).
Thus, the question that the Voluntary Euthanasia Bill 2010 be read a second time was “negatived”, and so Robin Chapple’s dangerous euthanasia Bill was defeated.
Of the 11 MLCs supporting euthanasia in WA, 4 were Greens, 6 were Labor and one was National. No Liberals supported the Bill.
This clearly evidences yet again that the Greens are the party of death.* The Hon Giz Watson (Greens, North Metropolitan) supported Robin Chapple’s Bill, but predictably expressed concern that it was too restrictive. “For me, the main issue with this legislation is that it is about choice. ... However, I would argue that it ought to be available in more circumstances to give more people a choice.”
At every opportunity, the Greens side with legislation that results in the destruction of human life, whether by abortion, or human embryo experimentation, or human embryo cloning, or, as in this instance, by unanimously supporting legislation that would allow for ill patients to be killed with lethal injection by doctors. 100 per cent of the Greens voted for this Bill.
It is also worth noting that the next worst performing party, in terms of supporting legislation that would legalise the killing of humans, is the Labor Party. While we are deeply indebted to the Hon Ed Dermer, the Hon Kate Doust, the Hon Matt Benson-Lidholm, the Hon Helen Bullock and the Hon Ljilanna Ravlich for their opposition to this Bill, six ALP MLCs (55 per cent) voted for Robyn Chapple’s Voluntary Euthanasia Bill.
On the plus side, four out of five National Party MLCs (80 per cent) opposed the Bill. Only the Hon Philip Gardiner voted for it.
And lastly we should note with gratitude that every Liberal MLC (100 per cent) voted against the Voluntary Euthanasia Bill.When some people argue that there is no substantive difference between the major parties, they are either ignorant of the facts or unwilling to give credit where it is due.There is a difference, and this vote goes some way toward demonstrating that.
If we are truly endeavouring to be Christians who cast our votes wisely, these are things that we should bear in mind at the next state election. The single most important consideration when voting is not “social justice” as defined by the left, but the right-to-life itself. Without the fundamental right to life itself, all other rights are meaningless. Therefore, politicians who vote for the legalised killing of a certain group within society, whether human embyos, or unborn children, or the supposedly terminally ill, should suffer the loss of support from Christians so that they will be prevented from supporting future legislation that places the lives of humans at risk.
Please take a moment to expression your thanks to all of the MPs who opposed the Bill.Politicians should not only receive our censure when they support bad legislation, but our commendation when doing right.
*Bob Brown, National leader of the Greens, has made it clear that he has two immediate priorities: gay marriage and the re-instatement of the Northern Territories’ euthanasia legislation. At both state and federal level, the Greens are determined to introduce and pass legislation that will result in the legalised killing of human beings.