Read: Michael Atkinson MP's Speech Against The SA Bill

November 16, 2016

The Hon. M.J. ATKINSON ( Croydon ) ( 19:32 ): 

My father died the kind of death described by James Joyce in the opening pages of Ulysses. It is a novel about 24 hours in the life of the city in which my father was born and was published the year before he was born, 1922. It was a death in which, for the last 12 hours, I wished every breath would be his last. Yet he wished to recover and to live, and about 24 hours before he died he tried to get out of his bed in the oncology section of the Royal Adelaide Hospital, pull on his trousers and walk onto North Terrace, where, in his rugby playing days, he had been a patron of the Botanic Hotel.

He was, of course, heavily sedated, and I will never know what he felt in those final hours. In the final hour, in what I regard as a miracle, the rostered nurse was from my father's home neighbourhood of Dún Laoghaire. It was he who administered the last dose of morphine, which depressed my father's respiratory system and caused his death swiftly. Should we always 'choose life', as the T-shirts say? Not always. I would not have wanted my friend, Frank Clappis, who was dying of mesothelioma, to go on any longer. Indeed, it would have been merciful if his life had ended days earlier.

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Read: Andrew Denton On The SA Outcome

This piece was originally published in The Australian under the title 'Granting terminally ill right to die with dignity is good policy'.

The South Australian parliament almost made history on Thursday morning. It was one vote away from passing a voluntary euthanasia bill through the lower house. Yes, there was still the upper house to negotiate, but suddenly the first voluntary euthanasia law in Australia for 20 years was a real possibility.

After eight hours of debate a final vote delivered a deadlock of 23-23. It fell to Speaker ­Michael Atkinson, a leading member of the ALP’s religious conservatives and a committed opponent to voluntary euthanasia in any form. He delivered the final blow to the Death with Dignity Bill at 4am on Thursday. Thus ended attempt number 16 to have voluntary ­euthanasia legislation passed in the South Australian parliament. The near passage of the bill shows that Australia is well and truly ready for a voluntary euthanasia law. The legislation being proposed was moderate and with safeguards modelled on laws running successfully in North America for 20 years.

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NT Revisited: The VE Debate, Then And Now - Religion

21 years ago, then-Chief Minister of the Northern Territory Marshall Perron delivered a speech to NT Parliament in the closing of debate on the Rights of the Terminally Ill Bill, which he introduced. The Bill was passed in 1996, and the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act became the first voluntary euthanasia law in the world. The Howard Government overturned the Bill a year later, and revoked the right of the territories to pass such a law again.

What is particularly interesting reading this speech today, is that even with two decades and a wealth of worldwide evidence between then and now, so many of the opponent arguments it highlights are still in play.

Here, we take a look at politicians with religious beliefs that oppose voluntary euthanasia.

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NT Revisited: The VE Debate, Then And Now – The AMA

21 years ago, then-Chief Minister of the Northern Territory Marshall Perron delivered a speech to NT Parliament in the closing of debate on the Rights of the Terminally Ill Bill, which he introduced. The Bill was passed in 1996, and the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act became the first voluntary euthanasia law in the world. The Howard Government overturned the Bill a year later, and revoked the right of the territories to pass such a law again.

What is particularly interesting reading this speech today, is that even with two decades and a wealth of worldwide evidence between then and now, so many of the opponent arguments it highlights are still in play.

Here, we take a look at the opposition of the Australian Medical Association.

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NT Revisited: The VE Debate, Then And Now – Safeguards

 

21 years ago, then-Chief Minister of the Northern Territory Marshall Perron delivered a speech to NT Parliament in the closing of debate on the Rights of the Terminally Ill Bill, which he introduced. The Bill was passed in 1996, and the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act became the first voluntary euthanasia law in the world. The Howard Government overturned the Bill a year later, and revoked the right of the territories to pass such a law again.

What is particularly interesting reading this speech today, is that even with two decades and a wealth of worldwide evidence between then and now, so many of the opponent arguments it highlights are still in play.

Here, we take a look at the argument that the right safeguards do not exist.

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Read: Marshall Perron's 1995 Northern Territory Speech

(Image via theaustralian.com)

21 years ago, then-Chief Minister of the Northern Territory Marshall Perron delivered this speech to NT Parliament in the closing of debate on the Rights of the Terminally Ill Bill, which he introduced. The Bill was passed in 1996, and the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act became the first voluntary euthanasia law in the world. The Howard Government overturned the Bill a year later, and revoked the right of the territories to pass such a law again.

SECOND READING, IN REPLY, CLOSING THE DEBATE
24 May 1995

Mr Speaker, a number of members find themselves in a dilemma over the issue before us. Indeed, I find myself among that group.

Today, I will damage relationships that I value deeply. My dilemma is whether to rest my case, and not further bruise those relationships, or press ahead and try to achieve a needed reform that will diminish misery and suffering for a very small number of unfortunate citizens to whom palliative care is no comfort.

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Watch: "Doctors: The AMA Doesn't Speak For Me."

Voluntary euthanasia is an issue that our medical professionals want discussed. 

The Death With Dignity Bill 2016 will be debated next week in South Australian Parliament, so we need your support now. 

If you live in South Australia, simply enter your name, email address and postcode here to let your MP know you want them to represent you, and support this Bill.

Alternatively, if you would like to call, visit, fax, or independently email your MP, you can find their contact details by electorate here.


Watch: "Governor Jerry Brown's Change Of Heart"

In October 2015, Californian Governor Jerry Brown, a former Jesuit seminarian, signed off on a voluntary euthanasia law after spending days questioning his moral position. The story of a young woman, Brittany Maynard, helped with this decision.

The Death With Dignity Bill 2016 will be debated next week in South Australian Parliament, so we need your support now. 

If you live in South Australia, simply enter your name, email address and postcode here to let your MP know you want them to represent you, and support this Bill.

Alternatively, if you would like to call, visit, fax, or independently email your MP, you can find their contact details by electorate here.


Watch: "It Should Be Done With Love"

Voluntary euthanasia is about compassion.

The Death With Dignity Bill 2016 will be debated next week in South Australian Parliament, so we need your support now. 

If you live in South Australia, simply enter your name, email address and postcode here to let your MP know you want them to represent you, and support this Bill.

Alternatively, if you would like to call, visit, fax, or independently email your MP, you can find their contact details by electorate here.


Watch: "Doctors: Being With Patients"

Voluntary euthanasia is about a doctor's ability to offer patients all options when they need them. 

The Death With Dignity Bill 2016 will be debated next week in South Australian Parliament, so we need your support now. 

If you live in South Australia, simply enter your name, email address and postcode here to let your MP know you want them to represent you, and support this Bill.

Alternatively, if you would like to call, visit, fax, or independently email your MP, you can find their contact details by electorate here.