Euthanasia is legalised in NSW after five years of debate to allow terminally ill patients to end their lives
Terminally ill patients in NSW can end their suffering when they choose after the euthanasia bill passed through parliament.
The state’s upper house passed the controversial legislation legalising voluntary assisted dying after a lengthy parliamentary debate on Thursday.
The legislation received 23 votes in favour and 15 against after members debated almost 100 amendments on Wednesday night and into Thursday.
Both major parties allowed a conscience vote on the issue, which was hotly debated for five years before finally coming to a decision.
Independent MP Alex Greenwich introduced the bill to parliament late last year, with 28 co-sponsors from across the political spectrum.
One of them, Labor MLC Adam Searle, thanked euthanasia advocates for their decades of campaigning.
‘I want to acknowledge the suffering of those who died waiting for this compassionate measure,’ he told the lower house after the bill passed.
‘Opponents of this bill have said this about the killing of innocent persons.
We are motivated by love, by respect, by compassion and because we think ultimately these choices should be for the person concerned as well as their families in light of all of the information they should have given to them.
‘It reflects an enhanced respect for life… Let’s make this law.’
However, Finance Minister Damien Tudehope called the passing of the law a ‘dark day’ that history would judge as a ‘dreadful mistake’.
‘It was a sad day because it was an opportunity for NSW to say ‘we can be better than this’,’ he said.
Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher agreed in a lengthy statement minutes later, branding the legislation ‘disturbing’.
‘If a civilisation is to be judged by how it treats its weakest members, the NSW parliament has failed miserably and has set a dark and dangerous path for all posterity, determining a new and disturbing definition of what it means to be human,’ he said.
‘I thank those few members in both houses of parliament who spoke out against this bill, often in the face of disdain and disparagement from their parliamentary colleagues, from pro-euthanasia lobby groups and from the media.’
Archbishop Fisher claimed the NSW Parliament now had a ‘shameful record’ of ‘two of the most anti-life pieces of legislation that exist in Australia, and indeed around the world’.
More to come.