Donnelly: What happens when those who care support killing?

As we have noted before, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation teamed up with Andrew Denton to push the case for euthanasia in the two debates held recently in South Australia.

Early on in the first debate, I found myself in a discussion on live radio with one of the leaders in the Nurses Federation. At the time, Denton had been pushing the untruth that euthanasia was not killing. I saw it as my principle role to make sure that people understood what rubbish this indeed was. So, I wondered to the radio announcer whether or not the nurses would support euthanasia as they obviously were if, in fact, it was they that had to do the killing? The nurses boss brushed aside the question without really answering.

It was only a few short weeks later when the second bill was introduced that we noted with horror that nurses were indeed able, under this new regimen, to kill their patients if authorised by a doctor.

The reasons that nurses were included was never explained by the mover of the bill. Did they ask for it? Were they keen to be included? We simply don't know. But the very fact that the nurses 'union' has represented itself not only as pro-euthanasia, not only as lobbying for it but also as those who might do the killing, is deeply disturbing.

But when the Australian Medical Association spoke out so strongly during the debate against euthanasia, Denton dismissed their position. Why? Because, according to him, they don't represent all doctors. Why then should anyone accept the position of the nurses federation who, likewise, don't represent all nurses? You can't have it both ways.

Long standing opponent of euthanasia and Labor Member of the New South Wales Legislative Council, Greg Donnelly, recently took to the pages of OnLineOpinion to express his disgust at the nurses union and their political campaigning.

After praising nurses warmly and endorsing their work as a vocation, he rightly gave them special status:

"And if asked what makes nurses so special, most will answer by saying that they accept us for whoever we are and whatever our condition. They are accepting and they do so without any conditions. And above all they can be trusted. Trusted to help us in our hour of need. They are there to look after and guide us, and protect us from being harmed or perhaps harming others. That trust is the invisible golden thread that connects the patient and the nurse. It is special, profoundly human and must never be compromised or betrayed."

He then goes on to roundly condemn the approach that they took in the South Australian debates:

"While I have high regard for the way the union represents the workplace interests of nurses and midwives, its highly partisan involvement in the political debate over legalising euthanasia is causing great unease amongst its members and within the community at large. Moreover, what is particularly disturbing is that the union's leadership seems absolutely determined to ignore and dismiss concerns out of hand.

"Lest there be any doubt about the jaundiced approach being taken by the union, visit the website of the Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation (SA Branch) and read the associated articles, media releases and posts along with viewing the videos. To start with, the union speaks with great enthusiasm about partnering with media personality, Andrew Denton and the organisation Go Gentle Australia. Denton and Go Gentle Australia are unequivocally committed to bringing about euthanasia legislation. Achieving this outcome is seen as a political objective that requires the execution of a political campaign. What we are seeing is Denton and Go Gentle Australia going about executing that campaign, as they are entitled to do. However, the question is on what basis does the union believe it has the authority to pursue legislative change that would legalise the act of one human being killing, or being party to killing, another human being?"

As if dazzled by stardom and celebrity, the union seems to be under the spell of this failed game show host:

"It is interesting to note that the union, at least in some of its branches, is giving Andrew Denton complete carte blanche to proselytise his views. In one recent branch journal I have read he is given two full pages to run-out his pro-euthanasia line. In the follow-up edition of the journal, all the letters to the editor were predictably favourable to the Denton line. No alternate view, no dissent, just slavishly repeating Denton's lines."

Of course it is possible that all nurses who rejected the ANMF euthanasia position handed in their membership some time ago; hence the lack of dissent.

Donnelly goes on to note how the nurses union website was backing the first failed bill, "Even though dangerous loop-holes and shortcomings had been identified and placed on the public record, the union was (still) parroting the lines being used by Andrew Denton and Go Gentle Australia." He questions: "How can the union leadership be enthusiastically supporting proposed laws that elected representatives have already rejected because of their deficiencies?"

Indeed. But Donnelly's concern here is also about the reputation of the nurses union:

"It will be interesting to see how members of the Nurses and Midwifery Federation react in due course, when they come to realise what is being promoted and supported in their name. I fear, along with many others, that the impeccable reputation of nurses and their standing in the community is going to be greatly damaged by their union's one-sided political campaign on euthanasia. Such an outcome will be tragic."

And what if this deeply flawed bill had passed as seemed possible at one stage? All of the people who signed up for the Denton and ANMF promotion called 'BeTheBill' and members of the ANMF themselves would have supported into law a bill that would have made the Belgium regime look moderate and few, if any would have realised it.

People do vote both yes and no based on ideological grounds - its called an opinion poll. But asking people to support and to lobby in ignorance is a misinformation poll. It is callous, it is abusive and plain wrong.