In Australia, the draft bill which would have allowed territories to pass their own laws concerning voluntary euthanasia was rejected by 36 votes to 34 after two days of impassioned debate in the Senate.
Senators Anne Ruston (Liberal) and Steve Martin (Nationals) finally voted against the draft bill having initially been in favour. “I cannot in good conscience offer my support to this bill which will provide the territories with the ability to legislate in the area of voluntary euthanasia, certainly without ensuring that appropriate safeguards are in place”, Anne Ruston told the Senate.
The draft bill was presented by Liberal Democratic Party senator, David Leyonhjelm. It proposed to overturn a federal law that removed the rights of the Australian Capital Territories(ACT) and Northern Territory (NT) to legislate on euthanasia – a law enacted in 1997 after the NT government briefly legalised medically assisted dying.
David Leyonhjelm said it had been “deeply frustrating” to hear fellow senators argue against his bill “in the misguided belief that [the law] would somehow impact negatively on the provision of palliative care for the terminally ill”.
Labour senator Pat Dodson, opposing the bill, argued that “paving the way for euthanasia and assisted suicide” would leave Indigenous Australians even more vulnerable, “when our focus should be on working collectively to create laws that allow the right to enjoy a healthy life”.
Since the draft bill was defeated, Federal Labour MPs Andrew Leigh and Luke Gosling, who have opposing views on voluntary euthanasia, have been drafting their own private member’s bill to allow the territories to make their own laws on the matter.
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