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South Australia’s missed opportunity to bring end of life choices
17 November, 2016
Despite a high level of public support for a change in laws to enable people’s access to voluntary assisted dying, the South Australian Parliament has voted against allowing people suffering from terminal illness to be able to die on their own terms.
South Australian MPs voted down the bill 23 to 23 with the speakers vote, ending debate on the issue that had been in the Parliament since February.
Andrew Denton and his organisation Go Gentle Australia led the campaign to change the laws in South Australia, which received widespread media coverage and debate on radio and television, but ultimately failed to connect politicians to the majority of the public, who support assisted dying laws.
In voting down the Death with Dignity bill, the South Australian Parliament has bowed down to pressure from religious conservatives such as Tom Kenyon MP, who has recently insisted that “Every time Christ encountered someone who was sick he healed them, he even brought people back from the dead. That’s what we believe. As Christians we can’t support euthanasia."
DWDV President, Lesley Vick shares the disappointment of many assisted dying advocates, saying:
“This outcome will be a great disappointment to the overwhelming majority of South Australian’s who support assisted dying laws.”
“The community looks to their elected representatives to enact humane and compassionate laws that reflect community opinion.”
In Victoria, the State Government will soon be responding to the report for the Inquiry into End of Life Choices, which made strong recommendations that the Victorian Government develop assisted dying legislation.
In September, the Victorian Health Minister declared her support for a person’s right to access voluntary assisted dying, based on her own personal experiences. A majority of the Victorian Cabinet Ministers, who came out in support of developing voluntary assisted dying legislation, supported Ms Hennessy’s position.
With the Government’s response to the report expected in early December, Dying With Dignity Victoria will be campaigning hard to ensure that State Politicians are aware of the level of community support for assisted dying, which remains between 70-80% in favour of voluntary assisted dying laws.
There are many lessons to be learned from today’s vote in South Australia, and DWDV will work alongside Go Gentle Australia and other organisations who believe that legislative change can be achieved to give dying people better choices and control.
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