The Western Australian parliament on Thursday rejected a bill providing for voluntary euthanasia.
The Voluntary Euthanasia Bill would have allowed people over the age of 21 with a terminal illness and who were sound of mind to ask a doctor to end their life. But it was defeated 24 votes to 11.
AdvertisementGreens legislator Robin Chapple had introduced the abortive legislation. After the defeat, he said, "I'm disappointed but not shattered in the sense that what we were able to do is actually have that debate for the first time in WA."
"A number of members actually put their heart on their sleeve."
He said it wouldn't be raised again until after the next state election because it was clear there wasn't enough support for it amongst current members.
"Quite clearly the votes aren't there but I will reintroduce it if I'm there and if I don't there were a number of other people who would," he said.
Prime Minister Colin James Barnett opposes euthanasia, calling it sanctioned killing.
"I don't believe our society is in a situation where we want sanctioned killing, if you like, under state powers," he said on Tuesday.
"The issue, I believe, is best dealt with by the families and doctors in charge at the time, just as it's been traditionally done."
Ironically, though, his Health Minister Kim Hames admitted only yesterday that he had helped a terminally ill patient die with a lethal dose of morphine.
Speaking to ABC radio, Dr Hames, who voted against euthanasia, said he had helped a patient pass away by issuing a strong dose of morphine.
"I warned the family that the dose of painkiller that I was about to administer was a respiratory suppressant, can stop that patient breathing," he said.
"Did they want me to do that? Did the patient want me to do that?
"The patient and the family said yes, so I administered that dose of painkiller."
Dr Hames said his actions were legal and rejected any notion that the incident was euthanasia.
"What I did was give pain relief, and the side effect of that pain relief resulted in that patient dying then rather than in half an hour's time," he said.
"That's very different to me putting in a drip and administering a concoction of drugs deliberately to take the life of that patient."
Euthanasia is illegal in Australia. Back in May 1995, the Northern Territory of Australia became the first place in the world to pass right to die legislation. But The Rights of the Terminally Ill Act lasted only nine months before being overturned by the Australian Federal Parliament. Today Voluntary Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide are illegal in all states and territories of Australia.
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