Euthanasia is an Issue that must be Considered and Applied to our Everyday Lives.
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Euthanasia is an Issue that must be Considered and Applied to our Everyday Lives. I speak on the Euthanasia Laws Bill to oppose it and to support voluntary euthanasia, in particular, the rights of the people of the Northern Territory. It extends to their citizens the right to opt for voluntary euthanasia. I speak on this issue with as much commitment as I have ever spoken on any matter before. As a doctor, as a relative, as a friend, I have on a number of occasions sat with people who have suffered the long, undignified, unedifying and sometimes very painful end to a useful, wonderful and productive career as a citizen that accompanies the extenuated dying process which comes from our ability to live longer as a result of modern technology. I have seen them suffer. I have heard their calls for help in ending their indignity and their suffering. That appeal comes with me into this chamber and into this speech. I have a short excerpt from a national newspaper here with me, which reads: It is almost a month now since my father-in-law, known to the family as Pa, died. Most people would accept that at almost 78 he had a 'fair innings', although by nature we tend to hope for longer with loved ones and life is never long enough.
I am a caring, responsible person. I wonder whether anti-euthanasia Richard Smith has known anyone or had a loved one who suffered as Pa did. I believe no one could possibly oppose euthanasia if they had experienced Pa's death. Ironically, I read in the paper the day after Pa's death that a convicted rapist and murderer had been put to death by lethal injection in America. A violent criminal had been afforded a dignified death while this fine law abiding gentleman was stripped of all dignity. I pray Pa has forgiven us for our ignorance. I also have here with me today a farewell note of Mrs Janet Mills, who died with the assistance of the voluntary euthanasia laws of the Northern Territory. I ask you all to compare this with the newspaper article. It reads: I believe that euthanasia is the greatest thing for people who are sick with no chance of getting better. It's a wonderful idea and it stops people from suffering when they don't need to, but I know I have no hesitation in asking for this. No one should have to suffer when they don't have to. She had been through such suffering. She continued: I am pleased that the Northern Territory has such a law, even though it was so difficult for me to use, as at least now I can legally and honestly end my life.
One only has to see both the repeated opinion poll figures and the way in which they have strengthened over those two or three decades to recognise that this is a constant as far as the people are concerned. A poll back in 1962 showed that 47 per cent of people supported voluntary euthanasia which a patient asked for, compared to 39 per cent who opposed it. Within 33 years, in 1995, the same question put to the people showed that the support had grown to 78 per cent and the opposition had fallen to 14 per cent. So in circumstances where a person asks to die and the doctor is able to respond with lethal injection. So it is here I leave you with something to think about. I hope that you are now challenged to give people the right to choose voluntary euthanasia, and not to deny them. I hope that you have the courage of the people in the Northern Territory. I hope that you respond to the undeniable force of public opinion, and charge all people who have not yet made up their minds to think carefully about that preponderant public opinion, to give the people a say if you cannot make a decision against overriding the law. Which will set the clocks back decades in what is an inexorable move in the global community as well as here, towards granting everybody the right to opt for voluntary euthanasia.
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