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Euthanasia debate heats up -

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ELEANOR HALL: The push for voluntary euthanasia laws is underway on two fronts in Australia.

In a video made before she died, a 31-year-old woman pleads for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to
legalise euthanasia.

And there are also calls for the issue to be examined by the Law Reform Commission as Simon Lauder
reports.

SIMON LAUDER: Angelique Flowers was diagnosed with aggressive colon cancer just a few months ago.
Before she died last month, the 31-year-old recorded a video of herself, which is now on the
website of "The Age" newspaper.

She described how she felt about the prospect of a slow painful death from a total bowel
obstruction.

ANGELIQUE FLOWERS: All I want after 16 years of painful Crohn's disease and now cancer, is to die a
pain-free, peaceful death.

SIMON LAUDER: Angelique Flowers made a plea to the Prime Minister to take the issue on.

ANGELIQUE FLOWERS: I beg the Labor Government to continue beating with the heart it has shown and
to ensure euthanasia is made legal once again.

SIMON LAUDER: The appeal from Angelique Flowers comes as the Australian Greens prepare to introduce
a bill in the Senate to lift the 1997 Commonwealth ban on the territories legalising euthanasia.

The President of the pro-euthanasia group Dying with Dignity Victoria, Neil Francis, says the
emotional appeal to Kevin Rudd is useful, but there's not much the Commonwealth can do about the
issue in the states.

NEIL FRANCIS: It will be of use to the territories and that it a terrific start. It will reinstate
the right of territories to make such legislation but the Federal Parliament can not overrule the
state parliaments on this particular matter.

SIMON LAUDER: Until last week advocates of voluntary euthanasia were pinning their hopes on a bill
in Victoria's Parliament which would have allowed doctors to help terminally ill patients to end
their lives.

But the Physician Assisted Dying Bill was voted down 25 to 13 in a conscience vote in the Upper
House.

The Liberal member for Bass, Ken Smith, says the bill was defeated despite community support for
voluntary euthanasia.

KEN SMITH: The truth of the matter is that there are doctors around now that are prepared to
administer a lethal dose of morphine on the basis that they are assisting people by cutting back on
the amount of pain but they reach a stage where they can give a dose of morphine that will kill
people.

Those doctors are in a position now where they are able to be prosecuted and I don't think that
that is fair.

SIMON LAUDER: Why is the issue got to be addressed now more than in the past?

KEN SMITH: There has been a number of news polls that have been run over a number of years now and
the last polling showed that there 82 per cent of Victorians wanted this type of legislation to
allow them to be able to in fact, die with some dignity.

SIMON LAUDER: Both Ken Smith and the Victorian Greens are pushing for the issue to be referred to
the Law Reform Commission. Neil Francis from Dying with Dignity Victoria says given the way the
recent abortion debate was handled in Victoria it would be inconsistent of the Government not to
refer euthanasia to the commission.

NEIL FRANCIS: It has referred one matter to the Law Reform Commission and received a report,
constructed a Bill and put it through the Parliament and it has behaved in a rather obstructionist
manner on the other matter which has also very high support in the community.

ELEANOR HALL: That is the president of Dying with Dignity in Victoria, Neil Francis. He was
speaking to Simon Lauder.