A bill to legalise voluntary euthanasia in
South Australia was rejected by the Upper House on Wednesday evening (Nov 24).
After a long debate, the private member’s bill was defeated on the voices.
Although there was no formal count, it is believed that 12 would have voted
against the bill, and 9 for it. This was the third voluntary euthanasia bill to
fail in the SA Parliament since 2003. However, the fight is not yet over in
South Australia. A separate bill by Labor MP Stephanie Key is being considered
in the lower house.
Spectators supporting both side of the
debate packed the public gallery, including euthanasia activist Dr Philip
Nitschke. Independent upper house member Ann Bressington was applauded after
she said she could not trust the Government to administer the Bill. “I
don’t care if it is not hip to be pro-life,” she said. “There are
slippery slopes, they do exist.”
Liberal Jing Lee, a swinging voter, was not
convinced either. “There are many problems with this Bill,” she said.
“What I am afraid of is voluntary euthanasia will inevitably mean in some
cases involuntary euthanasia.”
Family First MLC Dennis Hood argued that
the bill had too many loopholes. He claimed that it allowed euthanasia for
patients without a terminal illness and allowed people to take out life
insurance policies shortly before undergoing euthanasia. Referral to
psychiatrists was only optional in the bill and the proposed Voluntary
Euthanasia Board was “toothless”. “This was a dangerous proposal and I’m glad
it is off the table now so that we can get on with serious business for South
Australia,” said Mr Hood.