On September 22, 2021, we recall the first legal assisted death in Australia, in fact in the world, that of Bob Dent in the Northern Territory on September 22, 1996, 25 years ago. Bob had suffered from prostate cancer. We thank Marshall Perron, who, as the Chief Minister of the NT, initiated this legislation. Sadly, this legislation was overturned by Federal Parliament the following year by the Howard Government by what has been known as the Andrews Bill. We acknowledge Bob’s wife, Judy, who, as President of the NTVES (NT Voluntary Euthanasia Society), has been lobbying for 25 years to have the Right of the Territory restored to the NT Parliament to enact a VAD Bill.
Tragically, on the same date, September 22, but in 2017, Elizabeth Holmes, who had been in agony for some time from stage 4 breast cancer and other serious health problems, decided the only way to relieve her suffering was to take her own life in Tamworth, New South Wales. As Elizabeth (Liz) noted just prior to her death, this desperate action could have been avoided if NSW had had a Voluntary Assisted Dying Law. Such a law would have given Liz a compassionate extra choice in the manner of her dying.
New South Wales is now the only state remaining without a VAD law, It is time! COVID-19 has made many of us contemplate our dying and should not be used as a reason for delaying legislation.
This following speech by Sandra Nelson, MLA for Katherine, NT, talks of the circumstances prior to the death of Elizabeth Holmes. It is surely yet another reason why a Voluntary Assisted Dying law is needed in New South Wales. The speech has now been shared with all NSW Members of Parliament by Elizabeth Holmes’ daughter.
Posted here, including photos, with permission.
ADJOURNMENT – EUTHANASIA
23 November 2017
Madam Speaker, I rise tonight to commend Premier of Victoria – Daniel Andrews and his government on the historic passing of voluntary euthanasia laws which were passed in Victoria’s Upper House on Wednesday 22nd November.
Madam Speaker , There are few topics as popular, and yet divisive, as euthanasia. Both sides raise compelling arguments, and those arguments are numerous.
End of life care for the terminally ill or those with ir-remediable illnesses is dictated by law, regardless of what is in the best interests of the patient. The current prohibition on assisted suicide is at odds with our otherwise patient-centred health system, it’s almost contradictory. This is the one area of medical care in which the patient’s views cannot be considered and taken into account in determining a course of action.
Many of those who would seek assisted suicide are not physically capable of taking their own life. Even where a person is capable of taking action themselves, it is my opinion that it is barbaric to leave them with the choice between a potentially long and undignified death or violent options to take their own life.
The Northern Territory likes to think of itself as frontier country – it was certainly at the forefront of the international debate over euthanasia. On 25 May 1995 it became the first jurisdiction in the world to pass laws allowing a doctor to end the life of a terminally ill patient at the patient’s request. In doing so, the law permitted both physician-assisted suicide, and active voluntary euthanasia in some circumstances.
And under the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995 (NT) strict conditions applied: it is neither an unqualified ‘licence to kill’ nor an unqualified affirmation of a competent adult patient’s right to assistance in dying.
Madam Speaker, a couple of weeks ago I was visited in my electorate office by Sharon Cramp and her husband Spud.
Sharon and Spud shared with me the story about Sharon’s beautiful mother, Elizabeth Ann Holmes. Liz broke her back when she was 53, she battled breast cancer for 12 years, and had Continue reading