Mike Baird
Premier of NSW

Dear Mr Baird

Thank you for publicly admitting on ABC Q&A, 6.9.2015, that you had very strong views on [against] legalising CHOICE in assisted dying, but after talking with a man in a terrible position, his pleas will ‘haunt’ you.

John Grayson, the 34 year old with terminal brain cancer, vividly described his prognosis – “I am going to end up with right hand side paralysis, blindness, being mute. I will end up in severe, chronic pain. I will have cognitive impaired ability and I will eventually die. What I want to know is why I’m forced to go through that torture.” (Ref 1)

GEOFFREY ROBERTSON: Look, we have a fundamental right not to be subjected to torture and if that torture is cancer, if it’s a terminal illness, we are entitled to take ourselves out of it. It is an awesome decision to make, but [it’s] we are entitled to make it without the intervention of the state, without having those who assist us, often our loved family with whom we have a final meal or whatever, arrested and charged with assisting suicide. Surely that’s right.

MIKE BAIRD: “my concern would be, you know, making a judgment on life”. Fact: You are not making a judgment on life. When an illness is terminal, the patient would be making a judgement on choosing to endure the torture, or die a quick, pain-free death It is not a choice between life and death, but a choice between two different ways of dying.

I believe nearly all people who are actively campaigning for choice in assisted dying are also ‘haunted’ by the death of a loved one. The difference is that they are trying to get the law changed – and as Helen Joyce stated – it is a human right, and the reason why the law has not been changed is “political cowardice”.

MIKE BAIRD: Well, as much as I would want to agree, I mean, the concern I have is what does it mean in terms of the definition of life? Where do you get to in terms of advancements in medical technology all of a sudden? FACT: No advancement in medical technology will save John Grayson! Please be realistic – no advancements in medical technology would have saved Keith Smith, or the daughter of Robert Olvera. (See attachments)

Mr Baird, I challenge you to find any other social issue of such importance that attracts the support of 70 to 80% of all Australians, including a majority of Christians. In fact, in what would at first appear to be an anomaly, support for assisted dying is higher amongst Anglicans in Australia and the UK than in the general population! (Ref 2)

Lord Carey former Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the world wide Anglican church, speaking in support of the Falconer Assisted Dying Bill before the House of Lords, UK, said: it would not be “anti-Christian” to ensure that terminally ill patients avoid “unbearable” pain, and “One of the key themes of the gospels is love for our fellow human beings … Today we face a terrible paradox. In strictly observing accepted teaching about the sanctity of life, the church could actually be sanctioning anguish and pain – the very opposite of the Christian message.” (Ref 3)

One of the most respected religious leaders, Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, speaking in support of the same assisted dying Falconer Bill said: “I have been fortunate to spend my life working for dignity for the living. Now I wish to apply my mind to the issue of dignity for the dying. I revere the sanctity of life – but not at any cost.”. (Ref 4)

I plead with you as Premier to have the political fortitude and the Christian compassion akin to that of Desmond Tutu to initiate a change in the law. Please do not simply pass the buck to your Health Minister! If Quebec province, Canada, can do it, surely so can NSW! Could I please meet with you to discuss the issue face to face?

Yours sincerely

Ian Wood

– RIP Keith Smith
– Robert Olvera – a US Catholic doctor pleading for a change in the law that would have enabled his dying daughter to have had a painfree death
– A summary of the conclusions of the Quebec Government Parliamentary Inquiry into medical assistance in dying and end of life care
– Prof Tallis – Why changed my position and I now support assisted dying
– Chantal Sebire – the face that ‘haunts’ me and inspired me to campaign for choice in dying.
– Lack of safeguards is a question usually raised by those opposing – I have attached a list of safeguards that can be included in legislation.

Ref 1 Interestingly, in the U.S. Government “Bybee Memo” relating to torture prohibited from a military aspect, torture is defined as:
Intense pain or suffering of the kind that is equivalent to the pain that would be associated with serious physical injury so severe that death, organ failure, or permanent damage resulting in a loss of significant body function will likely result. You will notice how close the physical symptoms described here are to the prognosis of John Grayson and his brain tumour!
Memorandum from U.S. Dept. of Justice, Counsel to the President, Office of the Assistant Attorney General, to Alberto R. Gonzales, Counsel to the President, Re: Standards of Conduct for Interrogation Under 18 U.S.C. §§ 2340-2340A at 13 (Aug. 1, 2002) [“Bybee Memorandum”], available at http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB127/02.08.01.pdf.
Ref 2 YourLastRight.com: Australian public desire for legal assisted dying — 2012 research http://dwdnsw.org.au/public-opinion/ and http://www.religionandsociety.org.uk/events/programme_events/show/press_release_westminster_faith_debate_6_should_we_legislate_to_permit_assisted_dying
Ref 3 http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jul/12/archbishop-canterbury-carey-support-assisted-dying-proposal

Ref 4 http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-28282323

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