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Democrats euthanasia plan shows lack of compassion - 2 March 2004

Euthanasia is not a solution to illness, pain or depression, spokesperson for the Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations, Mary Joseph, commented today.

Ms Joseph was responding to news that the Australian Democrats plan to introduce a private members bill into the Australian Senate to overturn the restriction on euthanasia in the ACT, the Northern Territory and Norfolk Island contained in the Euthanasia Laws Act.

"What the Democrats are proposing is not that people should have the right to die. People already have that right. What they are proposing is that someone could be authorised to give another person a lethal injection," Ms Joseph said.

"The overwhelming evidence accepted by parliamentary inquiries into euthanasia conducted in countries across the world is that it is dangerous to give someone the power to kill another person. Vulnerable people who are sick, aged or depressed would be at risk of a lethal injection rather than getting the help they need.

"Research into the practice of euthanasia in the Northern Territory in 1996 and 1997, co-authored by Dr Philip Nitschke and published in The Lancet, revealed that 'pain was not a prominent clinical issue in our study. Fatigue, frailty, depression and other symptoms contributed more to the suffering of patients. There is a need to respond creatively to social isolation, and to treat actively all symptoms with early and skilled palliative care.'

"Lethal injections are not a creative or compassionate response to people's isolation, pain or depression."

Contact:    Mary Joseph, spokesperson for the Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations, telephone 02 6253 3100