Euthanasia Bill struck down in Tasmania

The Australian state of Tasmania has rejected a Bill to legalise euthanasia.

The legislation was defeated by 16 votes to 8 in the lower house of the Tasmanian Parliament.

It marks the third time in ten years that a euthanasia Bill has been defeated in the state.

Lethal drugs

The legislation would have allowed an adult deemed to have a “serious incurable and irreversible medical condition” access to lethal drugs to end their own life, or allow a doctor to administer the drugs.

Tasmania health minister Michael Ferguson said it attempted to remove protections safeguarding the sanctity of life.

“This is in fact a dangerous bill that will in fact create a different group of cruel tragedies.”

“We’ve said every suicide is too many yet before us is a bill that would sanction suicide”, he added.

‘Terrible message’

Speaking against the Bill, Paul Russell from HOPE: No Euthanasia said: “This is a resounding affirmation that Tasmanian society takes a dim view of doctors helping people to suicide. Other Australian states should take note.”

Daniel Pask, a disability activist with Lives Worth Living, also opposed the Bill, which he says posed a “real threat”.

Pask, who has spina bifida, added that it “sent a terrible message to people with disabilities, whose basic needs and human rights often still go unmet, that our lives are not worth living.”

Liz Carr, a disabled actress and activist for Not Dead Yet UK, recorded a message for Tasmania before the vote took place, and warned that the Bill would have exposed many to great risk.

UK

Euthanasia and assisted suicide remain illegal in the UK.

Under the law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a person who intentionally encourages or assists the suicide or attempted suicide of another person, commits an offence which carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

A Bill to legalise assisted suicide was resoundingly defeated in the House of Commons in 2015 by 330 votes to 118.