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Monday, 16 October 1995
Page: 2076


Mr MILES (2.00 p.m.) —I am very supportive of the motion which has been moved by the honourable member for McPherson (Mr Bradford). This debate, I think, is one which touches all of us. It has a lot of complexities. I want to mention something which intrigued me in recent days in relation to some writings about abortion and some of the comments by people on that subject. Of course, this is at the other end of life, where we are dealing with people in circumstances which none of us can imagine and where we are sometimes challenged as to whether we have a responsibility or a right to be involved in making these types of decisions at all.

  My view is that life is sacred and is one of those areas in which we as human beings ought not to meddle. Therefore, the second part of the motion, which says `affirms . . . commitment to the recognition of the sanctity of human life', is fundamental to a civilised society. As I said, I read an article at the weekend where a father made comments about his wife in relation to losing a child through abortion. He made this comment:

She was strangely unchanged and yet also changed absolutely.

I wonder whether, in 10 or 15 years—or it may even be less—particularly in the Northern Territory, people who have been involved in euthanasia will, on reflection, have feelings which they never expected when euthanasia was being debated. Perhaps they will come around to a point where, instead of saying that life is just a matter of chemicals coming together, and dying, and at the end of it there is nothing, they will say, after living and experiencing the emotions of participating in active euthanasia, `There is more to this.' I suspect in 10 or 15 years—probably even less—we may well see in regard to euthanasia the types of writings which we now see in relation to abortion from people like Naomi Wolf in the United States.

  I am very supportive of this motion. As a parliament, people here are expressing a view about the absolute importance of life. I raise the question whether any of us has the right to actually participate in the death of another person. I do not think we have. We do not have that right to participate in active euthanasia.

  We need to recognise that in this debate. As this motion says, we deplore the recent moves to sanction medically assisted euthanasia. That is what this debate is centring around. As a parliament, we need to be sending a clear message that in a civilised society like Australia we need to have some fundamental guidelines on which we run this area of our society. I believe this motion expresses very clearly the views of many people in this place; yet all of us would recognise that it is an area of deep sensitivity, of heartache, of pain and of difficulty for people having to make judgments. We know that doctors do have to make judgments in this very complex and heart-rending area, but I think we ought to oppose the move to make euthanasia legal and to assist people in dying. (Time expired)