Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS)
In Australia: 2009 to the present time
2009-JUN: Tasmanian bill introduced; the battle of the Nicks:
Tasmania is an island state of Australia that lies about 150 miles (240
km) to the south of the main continent of Australia. Its population is about
a half million.
Nick McKim, a member of parliament in the Tasmanian legislature who represent
"The Greens -- the worlds first green party" tabled a bill that would legalize
physician assisted suicide. His bill:
"... seeks to confirm the right of those suffering from a terminal illness
and experiencing intolerable pain to request assistance from a medically
qualified person to end voluntarily their lives in a humane and dignified
The bill contains safeguards including psychiatric evaluations to weed out
persons who seek suicide because of depression. It would only make PAS available
to residents of the state.
A poll by Enterprise Marketing and Research Services (EMRS) estimates
that 78% of adults in Tasmania support physician assisted suicide.
Nick Overton, director of the Australian Christian Lobby which opposes the bill,
suggested that the bill would put the elderly at risk and corrupt the medical
profession. He said:
"No society has the right to create an expectation that you should
terminate your life if you would otherwise be an inconvenience to society."
Overton is supported by the group Right to Life Australia.
Spokesperson Marcel White said:
"Right for Life Australia is worried that this Trojan horse
legislation will lead other states to go down the same path of legitimizing
ending patients lives by unnatural means and we don't want any states in
Australia to accept this." 1
2009-AUG: Person gets court permission to starve to death:
Christian Rossiter is a quadriplegic who has lived at the Brightwater Care
Group nursing facility in Perth since 2008-NOV. Once physically active, he
can only move his feet somewhat and wiggle one finger. He receives nourishment
through a stomach tube. The facility applied to the Supreme Court of Western
Australia to confirm his right to refuse food and water and be allowed to
die, without the facility being held liable. Assisting a person to commit
suicide in Australia can result in a life sentence in prison.
During a recent interview on TV he said: "I can't move. I can't even wipe the
tears from my eyes. And I'd like to die. I'm imprisoned in my own body. I have
no fear of death. Just [fear of] pain."
Dr. Philip Nitschke, founder and director of Exit International, a
voluntary euthanasia and end-of-life advocacy group, said:
"I don't know that
many people will want to die this way. But for people who do, it's a very
important decision. ... "This is the first time that it's come up with a person
that's rational and lucid. This is unusual. It's very rare."
Chief Justice Wayne Martin wrote in his ruling:
"Mr. Rossiter is not a child, nor is he terminally ill, nor dying. He is
not in a vegetative state, nor does he lack the capacity to communicate his
wishes. There is therefore no question of other persons making decisions on
his behalf. Rather, this is a case in which a person with full mental capacity
and the ability to communicate his wishes has indicated that he wishes to
direct those who have assumed responsibility for his care to discontinue the
provision of treatment which maintains his existence."
Two conservative groups expressed their belief that Rossiter should be forced
to live in pain and anxiety, and not be allowed to die:
|John Barich of the Australian Family Association said: "Really,
what we should be doing is looking after each other rather than facilitating
|Peter O'Meara, president of Western Australia's Right to Life
Association, said, "The law which is being applied can be a dangerous
"While hailing the victory, Nitschke decried the fact that Rossiter will
have to undergo a slow and painful death through starvation, rather than
having a quicker and painless way to end his life. Because he cannot use his
hands, Rossiter must rely on others to withhold treatment rather than being
able to take his own life. Switzerland has an assisted suicide law, and
Rossiter has considered going there." 2
Australian Labour Party attempts to censor the Internet.
Since 2008, the Labor Party has been trying to pass a bill that would have Australia follow the lead of two of the most repressive regimes in the world: China and Saudi Arabia. They hope to pass a law that would create the "Great Australian Firewall." It would terminate their citizens' access to domestic and foreign web sites that it deems undesirable. That would include sites dealing with gay rights, stem cell research, and physician assisted suicide, or would provide Internet gambling.
According to Wikipedia:
"... the governing Australian Labor Party has proposed to extend Internet censorship to a system of mandatory filtering of overseas websites which are, or potentially would be, 'refused classification' (RC) in Australia. This means that internet service providers would be required to block access to such content for all users. As of June 2010, legislation to enact this policy still has not been drafted. The proposal to introduce mandatory filtering has generated substantial opposition, with a number of concerns being raised by opponents and only a few groups strongly supporting the policy. Such legislation may therefore have difficulty passing through the Senate." 3
Faced with the possibility of Australians being unable to access its website, the leading assisted suicide group in Australia -- Exit International -- teamed up with David Campbell of Australia's Pirate Party. Campbell has taught eight classes of elderly members so that they have the knowledge to to bypass the Great Firewall if it should be activated. 4 He has placed his presentation online. 5
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Alex Bush, "Euthanasia Bill Introduced in Tasmanian Parliament,"
LifeSiteNews.com, 2009-JUN-05, at:
- Authur Brice, "Australian quadriplegic granted right to starve to death,"
CNN, 2009-AUG-14, at:
- "Internet censorship in Australia," Wikipedia, as at 2010-SEP-03, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
- "Pirate Party Helps Seniors Get Assisted Suicide Information Past Australia’s Web Filter," GeekOSystem, 2010-APR-09, at: http://www.geekosystem.com/
- Darren Pauli, "The Pirate Party: how to bypass the great Australian firewall," Computer World, 2009-AUG-07, at: http://www.computerworld.com.au/
Copyright © 1997 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2010-SEP-03
Author: B.A. Robinson