A bid to introduce assisted suicide is facing increasing opposition in an Australian state, ahead of a crucial vote next week.
Former Prime Ministers Tony Abbott and Paul Keating have both spoken out against the move in the state of Victoria.
And now newspaper The Australian is reporting that MPs are evenly split on the issue – a marked change from recent days.
‘Best euthanasia drugs’
Under the plans, people could be prescribed lethal drugs if they are deemed to be terminally ill and are expected to die within the next year. This includes people as young as 18.
But euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke wants the law to go much further, backing a system where everyone over the age of 70 has access to the “best euthanasia drugs”.
He told Sky News Australia that the Victoria law was a good “first step”.
However, MPs from across Australia’s political parties are now warning against the change. Liberal MP Georgie Crozier said after speaking to doctors and nurses she has decided to oppose it.
Independent MP James Purcell said that he supported the move, but would consult his electorate.
It stands for everything a truly civil society should stand against.
And The Nationals’ Luke O’Sullivan also confirmed he would be voting against assisted suicide, prompting The Australian to state: “Number crunchers estimate support is split 20-20”.
Last week Tony Abbott said if the legislation was supported, it would mark a “sad milestone in our decline as a decent society” because people would become viewed as “disposable”.
Tony Keating, Prime Minister between 1991 and 1996, said the proposal would have a negative society-wide effect as well as being regressive.
He explained that it will alter patients’ and families’ expectations and create a “culture of dying” across the nation.
“It stands for everything a truly civil society should stand against”, he added.
UK MPs reject assisted suicide
Last week, members of the lower house of the Parliament of Victoria backed the Bill. Some 300 amendments were rejected and the legislation was passed by 47 votes to 37.
In the UK, Westminster MPs debated the issue most recently in 2015. Parliament heard deep concerns about the vulnerable being pressured as well as doubts about proposed safeguards.
The House of Commons rejected the move by 330 votes to 118.