No-one should begrudge any Australian or group of Australians from 'pushing their barrow' in seeking to further their agenda, whatever that might be.
For those, like me, who oppose the introduction of legislation to allow people to be legally killed or for people to assist people to kill themselves, we sometimes just need to count to ten when every new euthanasia and/or assisted suicide bill is raised in some Australian Parliament. Yes, they do have a right to push their barrow; to have their say.
But that certainly doesn't mean that we don't criticize and it doesn't mean that we won't oppose their agenda.
Adam Bandt MP, The Greens Member for Melbourne, recently set up a poll question on the political activism website, Oursay.org. It concerned, as he called it, end-of-life decision-making.
The question is now closed. From what I can make of the site, it appears that there were 578 votes. The breakdown, yes or no, is not apparent.
According to the site and to a report on Nine MSN, Bandt intends to use the Oursay.org poll as the subject of a question to the Prime Minister during Question Time on the 14th of March.
"The old parties have vacated the political battlefield of ideas, so they shy away from advancing issues like dying with dignity ... despite having popular support to do so," he told Nine MSN.
Well, I guess that's one take on it.
Let's take a look at the question:
"Why does not the Australian Parliament take over the issue of end-of-life decision-making, which affects every single citizen as well as the medical and nursing professions? Over 80 per cent of Australians believe that terminally ill people who request aid in dying should be granted it. Just the knowledge that an early release is possible would comfort most of us. Don't leave it to State governments to keep bumbling on and quoting inaccurate information. Institute an inquiry and establish how voluntary euthanasia works safely in Oregon, Washington, the Netherlands and other mature and civilised states."
The issue of jurisdiction (state vs federal) over euthanasia was canvassed during the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Euthanasia Laws Act 1997 (The Andrew's Bill). Commentators observed that there would not seem to be a head of power under the constitution for this to take place. Others might disagree.
While the intention of the question is clear, the use of 'end-of-life decision-making' is simply not appropriate. Patients make valid decisions about their care and their treatment options in the end-stages of life every day that have nothing to do with euthanasia or assisted suicide. State-sanctioned-killing is probably the most accurate phrase, but I doubt Mr. Bandt would agree.
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Paul is also Vice Chair of the International Euthanasia Prevention Coalition