Paul Kelly, Editor-at-large for The Australian, pens an article today that is well worth reading, and responding to, via Federal parliamentarians: Brown’s euthanasia bill a perilous test for Gillard. He writes:
“The bill is facilitated under new parliamentary procedures and the Labor-Greens alliance.
Gillard has announced that Labor will allow a conscience vote but that cannot gainsay the political question: Will the Gillard government become the means to authorise legalised killing in Australia by abandoning the 1997 law of the national parliament?
This would be a threshold and false step for Australia. It is difficult to imagine that Gillard wants this stamp on her prime ministership.
During the past dozen years euthanasia has won little acceptance in most Western nations beyond The Netherlands and Belgium in Europe and the states of Oregon and Washington in the US. Two years ago human rights champion Frank Brennan told a Senate committee: “Since the commonwealth exercise the US Supreme Court has said there is no right to euthanasia. It would seem to me that on balance nothing has changed or, if anything, the anti-euthanasia case is probably slightly strengthened if we look at developments in equivalent jurisdictions.”
The clinching case against euthanasia has been put by Australian-Canadian lawyer and ethicist Margaret Somerville in evidence to the Australian parliament: “If you look at the most fundamental norm or value on which our type of societies are based, it is that we do not kill each other. No matter how compassionate and merciful your reasons for carrying out euthanasia, it still alters that norm that we do not kill each other to one where we do not usually, but in some cases we do.”
Once this threshold is crossed and killing is sanctioned, what are the terms, conditions and safeguards? Given the fraility of human history, does anybody doubt the scope and scale for abuses?”