04 Jul
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HOPE Campaign against legalising euthanasia

From Paul Russell, campaign director of HOPE: Preventing Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, an initiative of the Australian Family Association.

HOPE is essentially a network of concerned Australians who are opposed to euthanasia and assisted suicide. With the escalation of the number and frequency of euthanasia and assisted suicide bills in recent times, we believe it is essential that we organize in such a way for the long haul. We began in our home state of SA focusing on SA’s three euthanasia bills and the federal bill. The possibility of a euthanasia bill succeeding in SA has become all too real with yet a fourth bill having been introduced just as Green’s MP, Mark Parnell MLC’s, bill was defeated on 24 November (see following article). His last attempt in 2009 failed by the slimmest of margins and the composition of that chamber has changed since then at the March 2010 state election – possibly for the worse.

The list of recent Green’s attempts to legalise euthanasia is an indication of their determination on the issue. A bill in WA was only defeated in October last. A Green’s bill was introduced into the NSW parliament earlier in November. Tasmania is facing a possible new Green’s bill (McKim) early next year, as is Victoria.

Three of the four SA bills are not Green’s sponsored and only one of the three foreshadowed Victorian bills is Green’s sponsored. However every other of these initiatives has been. The Greens are the driver of the current push to legalise euthanasia in Australia, as they have been in all five attempts since September, 2008.

There is a need for a continuing network to meet these moves as they are being made so often. It is really difficult cranking up various and disparate networks each time a euthanasia bill poses a threat. Many who organize against such bills echo the frustration of dealing simultaneously with euthanasia and other matters and not necessarily finding the time or the resources to do all that they would like to do on all fronts. 

In October Alex Schadenberg toured Australia visiting Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Tasmania and the ACT. Alex is the Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition based in Ontario, Canada and International Chair of the Coalitions against Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. Discussions with him crystallised the necessity of having a dedicated network and a “euthanasia guy” (his words) – someone dedicated to this single task. He was insistent that such an organisation would have to welcome anyone who opposed euthanasia regardless of their views on any other issue. In his work for example the disability sector is a firm ally.

We also need to get doctors involved. They are in the front line of this battle and need to understand what legalisation of euthanasia will mean. Moves have already been made to form a doctor’s group.

ACTION

  1. To build the network necessary to oppose moves to legalise euthanasia we need people to join the HOPE campaign. To register go to our website www.noeuthanasia.org.au.
  2. Do you know people or groups who oppose euthanasia, those with disabilies. RSL – military veterans, those in or working in aged care, active elderly people, people with chronic illness? These are groups who will be vulnerable if euthanasia is legalised. It is important such people join the network to oppose euthanasia. If you know such people or groups please contact Pat Byrne on 03 9816 0800.
  3. If you are a doctor who would like to contribute to the campaign, please contact Pat Byrne on 03 9816 0800.
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