EUTHANASIA returned to the spotlight in State Parliament recently, with members of the Upper House debating the merits of palliative care in preference to euthanasia.
Member for the South Metropolitan Region Nick Goiran moved a motion on April 10 that the house condemn child euthanasia, commend palliative care, affirm the value of human life and endorse suicide prevention.
Mr Goiran cited the recent legalisation of child euthanasia in Belgium, as well as referring to Dr Philip Nitschke’s February visit to Perth.
“Nitschke gave Western Australians detailed instruction in methods of killing, including how to illegally obtain the schedule eight poison pentobarbitone and how to use nitrogen as an undetectable means of bringing about death,” Mr Goiran said.
Last month, police raided the homes of several of Mr Nitschke’s supporters, searching for the illegally imported drug Nembutal, which kills within an hour of being consumed.
The website of the voluntary euthanasia group Exit, which Mr Nitschke founded, provides information for those considering euthanasia on how to purchase the illegal drug anonymously over the internet.
Under the Criminal Code Act 1995, importers of the drug can face criminal and civil charges, including fines of as much as $170,000.
North Metropolitan Member Liz Behjat voiced her support of Mr Goiran’s motion, while reminding fellow parliamentarians that her opposition to euthanasia was not based on religion.
“I think there is a belief among people that someone has to be some sort of religious nutter to be opposed to euthanasia and that it is only those who hold particular religious beliefs that share my abhorrence of euthanasia,” she said.
“I firmly put it on the record that I do not practise any particular religion and I do not have any particularly strong religious beliefs, but I do hold true to very, very strong beliefs against euthanasia.”
Mrs Behjat declared that euthanasia in any form is simply “not acceptable” for our society.
“We do not throw away human life; we value it, we cherish it and we do whatever we can to extend it and to help people,” she said.
In 2010, Greens MP Robin Chapple introduced a bill to legalise voluntary euthanasia in WA.
It was defeated 24-11, but Mr Chapple has stated that he intends to introduce yet another bill for the same cause later this year or in 2015.