THE Australian Greens have announced that they will introduce legislation in the next parliament with the goal of giving terminally ill Australians the right to end their life through euthanasia.
Greens Senator Richard Di Natale outlined the plan earlier today at a press conference in Sydney. He said that the Greens would base their euthanasia policy on a bill proposed by federal Greens candidate Cate Faehrmann in New South Wales earlier this year.
Ms Faehrmann’s bill gave competent adults over the age of eighteen the option to end their life if they are diagnosed with a terminal illness. The bill was rejected by the New South Wales upper house in May, however Ms Faehrmann said that the reforms were important on a federal level.
Ms Faehrmann said: “Its compassionate law reform, it’s much needed, it’s overdue.”
Dr Di Natale said that it was unlikely Ms Faehrmann’s legislation would be implemented as it currently stands, claiming that it would provide a basis for a Senate inquiry into the best possible way to introduce federally-sanctioned euthanasia. He said that the Greens believed that most Australians would support some form of ‘right to die’ legislation.
Dr Di Natale said: “People want to have the right to die with dignity, and they don’t want governments to get in the way of that. Most people won’t exercise the right to die with dignity, but just the fact that that legislation exists gives them a great sense of comfort to know if things become too much, they can make a choice to end that pain and suffering.”
Prominent euthanasia advocate Dr Philip Nitschke told Australian Times in June that there was a “certain inevitability” to the introduction of right to die legislation in Australia. The Northern Territory introduced legalised euthanasia briefly in 1996, during which period Dr Nitschke assisted four people in ending their own lives.
Dr Nitschke told Australian Times: “While attempting suicide is not a crime, it is fourteen years possible prison time for assisting suicide in some states — Queensland and Western Australia have life. Currently the next best chance will be in Tasmania where we have the Labor premier Lara Giddings strongly pushing legislative change, supported by the Greens, leader Nick McKim the vote is due later this year.”
Dr Di Natale said that legislation introduced by the Greens later this year would provide peace of mind to the terminally ill, as well as protections for medical professionals involved in decisions as to whether terminating a patient’s life is a viable option. He said it was likely that legislation would include a clause requiring an independent doctor to assess patients before action was taken.
Dr Di Natale said: “Many of us have been in a situation where we have hastened someone’s death in an effort to end their pain and suffering, and we’re constantly walking a tightrope when it comes to making that decision.”
Dr Di Natale, a former general practitioner, was elected as a Greens candidate to the Australian Senate in 2010. He currently serves as the party’s spokesperson for health, sport, gambling (twinspires promocode) and multiculturalism.