By Alex Bush

June 5, 2009 ( – Nick McKim, an MP from the political party the Tasmanian Greens, has tabled a bill that would legalize euthanasia. The 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 manner.”

McKim has responded to critics of the bill who suggest that the bill will be abused, saying that it has “safeguards” in place, including psychiatric evaluations and limitations to Tasmanian residents. The MP also cited an Enterprise Marketing and Research Services (EMRS) poll that estimated Tasmanian support for legal euthanasia at 78%.

However, opponents of the bill are calling for pause on the part of the Tasmanian government.

The Australian Christian Lobby director Nick Overton said that euthanasia laws would put the elderly at risk and corrupt the medical profession.

“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 said.

“In Holland where euthanasia has been practiced since the 1990s,” he said, “1000 people per year are killed without their consent. The Dutch experience shows that so-called voluntary euthanasia quickly becomes non-voluntary euthanasia.”

Right to Life Australia's Marcel White, told ABC News that the group is concerned that the law will be abused.

“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.”

Senator Eric Abetz, who chaired an inquiry in 1997 that rejected euthanasia, said that “People often mix up the concept of the 'right to die', which is everybody's right to reject medical treatment, with the proactive step of deliberately assisting someone to terminate their life.”

“A caring and compassionate society would never say to someone 'we agree with you – your life is not worth living,' ” he continued.

All seated political parties have committed to a conscience vote on this bill, meaning that individual MPs can vote against the party leadership.


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