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Death with Dignity Bill 2016
Final Second Reading Speeches and the debate on amendments to the Death with Dignity Bill 2016 took place in the South Australian Parliament on 16-17 November. Second Reading speeches were made from 7.30 until 10pm. The Bill was then voted into Committee stage by 27 to 19.
During the Committee stage, approximately 40 amendments were moved. 29 of the amendments had been prepared by Mr Chris Picton, and had previously been discussed with the Bill mover and seconder, Dr Duncan McFetridge and Hon Steph Key.
Amendments included requiring both assessing doctors to be specialists, a prognosis of 6 months or less to live, compulsory assessment by a psychiatrist, request to be renewed every 28 days, requirements in relation to drug storage and destruction of drugs after 7 days (if not used), doctor being able to revoke an approval if they become aware of new information.
After six hours of debate, clause by clause, and sometimes line by line, at 4.12 am a final vote was taken on the Death with Dignity Bill 2016 (as amended).
The tellers for each side reported 23 votes each. The Speaker, Hon Michael Atkinson, a long term opponent of voluntary euthanasia, cast his vote against the Bill.
Hansard records the vote as follows:
Ayes ............... 23
Noes ............... 23
Majority ........... 0
|Bignell, L.W .K.
McFetridge, D. (teller)
Kenyon, T.R. (teller)
van Holst Pellekaan, D.C.
|Duluk, S. |
Following consultations with Parliamentary colleagues and the community over the last eight months, Dr Duncan McFetridge, Liberal Member for Morphett, and Hon Steph Key, Labor Member for Ashford, prepared a new Bill, the Death with Dignity Bill 2016. The Death with Dignity Bill 2016 was introduced and tabled by Dr Duncan McFetridge, MP, on October 20, 2016, and seconded by Hon Steph Key, MP.
The vote was a conscience vote, so MPs made their own decision on how they would vote. Labor MPs voted 2/3 to support the Bill; Liberal MPs voted 2/3 against the Bill.
Marshall Perron, former Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, who introduced the world’s first voluntary euthanasia legislation in 1996, and Andrew Denton, broadcaster and presenter, campaigner for voluntary euthanasia and founder of the website GoGentleAustralia, stayed with us in the Gallery listening to the debate until the final vote at 4.12am.
Voluntary Euthanasia Bill 2016
Debate on the Voluntary Euthanasia Bill 2016 continued on October 20 with seven speakers and was adjourned to December 1.
Andrew Denton and GoGentleAustralia
Television producer, presenter, writer and comedian Andrew Denton has launched a campaign in support of legal assisted dying in Australia. Andrew’s profile, presence and skills are a welcome addition to the national campaign. His speeches, panel performances and arguments in support of voluntary euthanasia have provided a major stimulus to media interest in the debate and invigorated the campaign. Andrew and his team have created a website in support of the campaign, Go Gentle Australia, which provides facts, evidence, interviews, testimonials and inspiring resources in a dynamic and user friendly format.
The http://www.gogentleaustralia.org.au/ website is a major resource for the campaign and will provide continually up dated information for use by all participants in the debate.
For example, listen to Kylie Monaghan’s story and send your personalised copy of the Voluntary Euthanasia Bill to all 69 South Australian Members of Parliament, using BeTheBill. Listen also to nurse Anne Maxwell’s compelling story.
The recent launch of The Damage Done, an ebook documenting 150 stories from people who have suffered at the end of life, their families, doctors, nurses, carers and friends, provides an unarguable insight into why assisted dying legislation is needed in Australia.
The Damage Done was launched at the National Press Club on August 10. Andrew’s inspiring address is available here.
In 2015 Andrew and his team produced a series of 17 podcasts for The Wheeler Centre, titled Better Off Dead, which highlight the arguments for and against voluntary euthanasia. The series was the culmination of interviews in Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands and Oregon in 2015.
Professionals and other citizens support for Voluntary Euthanasia
Nurses, Doctors, Christians, Young People, People with Disabilities and Lawyers, people from a broad cross section of the community have established organisations and networks in support of the legal right to voluntary euthanasia.
People with Disabilities: https://www.facebook.com/MY-BODY-MY-Choice-VE-350165335178263/
Young People: https://www.facebook.com/groups/261738790597072
SAVES was established in 1983 to campaign for legal voluntary euthanasia and is staffed entirely by volunteers.
A majority of Australians have consistently supported voluntary euthanasia. In a 2012 NewsPoll, 82.5% of Australians supported the choice of voluntary euthanasia for a person with unrelievable suffering.
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