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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (22 November) . . Page.. 2269 ..

Mr Moore: It is just that they took a pledge that they would support the policy.

MR HUMPHRIES: Indeed, they took a pledge to do so, but I think in those circumstances, where a party does decide to bind members to a point of view of that kind - and I am deeply thankful that my party is not one such party - it is incumbent on members of that party to tell the community, not just in the fine print of a document that you pay $20 to obtain but in bold letters in some part of a published statement before an election, that that is the bound position of members of the party. It is deeply concerning to me that members should ever be in a position of being faced with an obligation to support legislation of this kind which is not of their belief or view. It is a tribute to Mr Connolly's and Mr Wood's courage that they are prepared to push the issue to the point where they are able today to vote according to their consciences, but I am not prepared to let the Labor Party generally off the hook on this issue. I think it is most important that, before the 1998 election, if they have intentions of supporting legislation on any moral issue in the succeeding Assembly they tell members of the community what that position will be.

MS HORODNY (12.08): Mr Speaker, I have been listening to the debate in the community on voluntary euthanasia for some time now. I have had delegations of people from the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, the pro-life groups, the AIDS council, the bishop and archbishop of this region, the Doctors Reform Society, the AMA and other health professionals, and individuals who themselves are in the terminal stages of an illness. I have also had individual phone calls and letters from hundreds of people who feel very strongly one way or the other on this issue. I have visited the hospice and spoken to many health care workers about palliative care. I have struggled with the moral dilemma of when life begins and ends and when, if ever, it is right to allow someone to end their own life.

Speakers against this Bill have said that abuse could happen, but this does not address the fact that euthanasia is performed now and that there are no safeguards in place at present; there are no records kept on euthanasia, on the process itself, because, beyond the withdrawal of treatment, voluntary active euthanasia, legally speaking, does not currently exist, although we know it does. Speakers against this Bill have also expounded the values of human life but have not talked about the lack of quality of life when an individual is on their deathbed, is in unbearable pain, and is ready to die because, for them, palliative care has not been helpful. The issue of voluntary euthanasia is one politicians have traditionally steered clear of because it divides the community and it is politically unsavoury. This Bill is about giving people the right to choose to end their life if they are in the terminal stage of a terminal illness, and only if they are in that stage.

I was initially suspicious of this Bill and its ramifications. I questioned every detail, and I thought that perhaps palliative care was the only solution we needed for this problem of suffering and distress. I also thought about how to avoid making this difficult decision altogether. At times I thought, "We have managed to date without this legal channel for voluntary deaths, so why not let things go on as they are? Then I too can avoid the ethical issue of the sanctity of life versus people's right to choose, like so many other politicians before me". The problem is that I knew that what the doctors and other

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