New Euthanasia Bill to be tabled in South Australian Parliament.

New Euthanasia Bill to be tabled in South Australian Parliament. 

The Private Member's Business Notice Paper for the House of Assembly in the South Australian Parliament lists, as number one, the latest bill by backbencher, Steph Key MP. The listing says she will, 'introduce a Bill for an Act to provide for choices at the end of life.'

She is not talking about choices but, rather, about one choice: to be made dead. Under Ms Key's bill, this will be either by euthanasia or by the 'self-administration of voluntary euthanasia'; a clumsy and inaccurate description of assisted suicide.

The bill does not constrain the qualification for either euthanasia or assisted suicide to a terminal illness or to a prognosis of six months or less - both common inserts in previous bills. Strange that earlier bills claimed such qualifications as 'safeguards', yet they are absent here. Even euthanasia for mental health issues is not excluded.

The bill casually seeks to define an act of euthanasia or assisted suicide as a 'medical issue'. We have always seen that the inclusion of the medical profession at the centre of these type of bills is really more about providing a veneer of legitimacy than in is about the necessity of a doctor as part of the killing regimen. But killing is not a medical act.

The bill also seeks to create protections from prosection in some very curious ways. The Criminal Code prohibitions against such acts would be understood to have been varied by any successful euthanasia or assisted suicide bill to the extent of the provisions of that bill and regardless of whether or not the code is formally amended. However, this bill goes further than that in a number of ways.

Firstly, it provides an immunity to those who sell or supply medical equipment (other than the lethal drug) for the purposes of making the person dead. This is entirely bizarre and, whether intentional or not, provides legitimacy to the clandestine behaviour of Philip Nitschke and Exit International.

Secondly, it creates a section against 'victimization'. This may mean many things but it would clearly proclude anyone from advising another on whether or not his or her local GP had taken part in a euthanasia death.

If that were not curious enough, like many other bills we have seen, Key's Bill instructs the doctor to lie on the death ceritificate where they are to note that the death was caused by the underlying illness (and not their action). Bad form, cetainly, but made all the more ridiculous by the fact that the person seeking to be made dead need not have a terminal illness at all; in other words: they may not have been otherwise dying.

Of greatest concern is the acknowledgement that the patient's consideration of their condition as constituting 'unbearable suffering' is entirely subjective. True, no bill nor fom of words can be created that would create a test as to the 'bearability' or otherwise of suffering and pain. But this bill takes this reality one step further in a way that renders the doctor(s) opinion null and void by this subclause:

The question of whether a person's suffering is bearable or unbearable cannot be challenged or questioned in any proceedings seeking to prevent or delay the administration of voluntary euthanasia to an eligible person.

There you have it. So, whether or not the doctor and even psychiatrist believe that there is more that can be done to alleviate pain and distress or even remedy the illness entirely, they cannot refuse the request on that basis. All they can do is to refuse to take part. This renders even the dubious 'safeguard' of the opinion of medical professionals useless.

In truth, there are no safeguards in this bill - only procedures.

South Australians can get involved in stopping this bill by contacting their local MPs. CLICK HERE for more details.