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Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS)

In Australia: 2009 to the present time

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2009-JUN: Tasmanian bill introduced; the battle of the Nicks:

Tasmania is an island state of Australia that lies about 150 miles (240 km) to the south of the main continent of Australia. Its population is about a half million.

Nick McKim, a member of parliament in the Tasmanian legislature who represent "The Greens -- the worlds first green party" tabled a bill that would legalize physician assisted suicide. His bill:

"... seeks to confirm the right of those suffering from a terminal illness and experiencing intolerable pain to request assistance from a medically qualified person to end voluntarily their lives in a humane and dignified manner." 1

The bill contains safeguards including psychiatric evaluations to weed out persons who seek suicide because of depression. It would only make PAS available to residents of the state.

A poll by Enterprise Marketing and Research Services (EMRS) estimates that 78% of adults in Tasmania support physician assisted suicide.

Nick Overton, director of the Australian Christian Lobby which opposes the bill, suggested that the bill would put the elderly at risk and corrupt the medical profession. He said:

"No society has the right to create an expectation that you should terminate your life if you would otherwise be an inconvenience to society."

Overton is supported by the group Right to Life Australia. Spokesperson Marcel White said:

"Right for Life Australia is worried that this Trojan horse legislation will lead other states to go down the same path of legitimizing ending patients lives by unnatural means and we don't want any states in Australia to accept this." 1

2009-AUG: Person gets court permission to starve to death:

Christian Rossiter is a quadriplegic who has lived at the Brightwater Care Group nursing facility in Perth since 2008-NOV. Once physically active, he can only move his feet somewhat and wiggle one finger. He receives nourishment through a stomach tube. The facility applied to the Supreme Court of Western Australia to confirm his right to refuse food and water and be allowed to die, without the facility being held liable. Assisting a person to commit suicide in Australia can result in a life sentence in prison.

During a recent interview on TV he said: "I can't move. I can't even wipe the tears from my eyes. And I'd like to die. I'm imprisoned in my own body. I have no fear of death. Just [fear of] pain."

Dr. Philip Nitschke, founder and director of Exit International, a voluntary euthanasia and end-of-life advocacy group, said:

"I don't know that many people will want to die this way. But for people who do, it's a very important decision. ... "This is the first time that it's come up with a person that's rational and lucid. This is unusual. It's very rare."

Chief Justice Wayne Martin wrote in his ruling:

"Mr. Rossiter is not a child, nor is he terminally ill, nor dying. He is not in a vegetative state, nor does he lack the capacity to communicate his wishes. There is therefore no question of other persons making decisions on his behalf. Rather, this is a case in which a person with full mental capacity and the ability to communicate his wishes has indicated that he wishes to direct those who have assumed responsibility for his care to discontinue the provision of treatment which maintains his existence."

Two conservative groups expressed their belief that Rossiter should be forced to live in pain and anxiety, and not be allowed to die:

bulletJohn Barich of the Australian Family Association said: "Really, what we should be doing is looking after each other rather than facilitating an escape."
 
bulletPeter O'Meara, president of Western Australia's Right to Life Association, said, "The law which is being applied can be a dangerous precedent."

CNN reports:

"While hailing the victory, Nitschke decried the fact that Rossiter will have to undergo a slow and painful death through starvation, rather than having a quicker and painless way to end his life. Because he cannot use his hands, Rossiter must rely on others to withhold treatment rather than being able to take his own life. Switzerland has an assisted suicide law, and Rossiter has considered going there." 2

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Australian Labour Party attempts to censor the Internet.

Since 2008, the Labor Party has been trying to pass a bill that would have Australia follow the lead of two of the most repressive regimes in the world: China and Saudi Arabia. They hope to pass a law that would create the "Great Australian Firewall." It would terminate their citizens' access to domestic and foreign web sites that it deems undesirable. That would include sites dealing with gay rights, stem cell research, and physician assisted suicide, or would provide Internet gambling.

According to Wikipedia:

"... the governing Australian Labor Party has proposed to extend Internet censorship to a system of mandatory filtering of overseas websites which are, or potentially would be, 'refused classification' (RC) in Australia. This means that internet service providers would be required to block access to such content for all users. As of June 2010, legislation to enact this policy still has not been drafted. The proposal to introduce mandatory filtering has generated substantial opposition, with a number of concerns being raised by opponents and only a few groups strongly supporting the policy. Such legislation may therefore have difficulty passing through the Senate." 3

Faced with the possibility of Australians being unable to access its website, the leading assisted suicide group in Australia -- Exit International -- teamed up with David Campbell of Australia's Pirate Party. Campbell has taught eight classes of elderly members so that they have the knowledge to to bypass the Great Firewall if it should be activated. 4 He has placed his presentation online. 5

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Alex Bush, "Euthanasia Bill Introduced in Tasmanian Parliament," LifeSiteNews.com, 2009-JUN-05, at: http://www.lifesitenews.com/
  2. Authur Brice, "Australian quadriplegic granted right to starve to death," CNN, 2009-AUG-14, at: http://www.cnn.com/
  3. "Internet censorship in Australia," Wikipedia, as at 2010-SEP-03, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  4. "Pirate Party Helps Seniors Get Assisted Suicide Information Past Australia’s Web Filter," GeekOSystem, 2010-APR-09, at: http://www.geekosystem.com/
  5. Darren Pauli, "The Pirate Party: how to bypass the great Australian firewall," Computer World, 2009-AUG-07, at: http://www.computerworld.com.au/

Site navigation: Home page > "Hot" topics  > Assisted Suicide > here

or: Home page > "Hot" topics  > Suicide menu > Assisted Suicide > here

Copyright © 1997 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2010-SEP-03
Author: B.A. Robinson

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