National campaign on voluntary euthanasia launched as support for legislation grows across country

Friday 23rd September, 2016

A national campaign appealing for politicians to support voluntary euthanasia laws has today been launched by television and radio personality Andrew Denton at South Australia’s Parliament House.

Voluntary euthanasia legislation is currently before SA Parliament, with both the Premier and Opposition Leader supporting the need for a full parliamentary debate on the issue.

The ‘Be the Bill’ campaign, jointly backed by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) and Go Gentle Australia, is aimed at encouraging politicians to exercise their conscience vote in favour of voluntary euthanasia.

The campaign, being driven through social media, features 35-year-old Port Pirie woman, Kylie Monaghan, who is terminally ill with advanced cancer that has spread to her liver and bones. 

Kylie was unable to attend the launch in person but supplied a powerful video address with this message to all South Australian politicians:

"I need you to make this law happen. I know you might need to amend the bill to get it through, but I'm counting on you to do the right thing."

Kylie, who was represented at the event by her father, Greg, and family, is asking politicians to look beyond the impersonal nature of the bill and remind them that their vote affects real people in real suffering.

“How extraordinary it is to live in a society where it is legally and ethically acceptable for a dying patient to endure a slow, tortuous death, yet it is legally and ethically unacceptable for that same dying patient to choose a quick and painless end to their suffering,” says Director of Go Gentle Australia Andrew Denton.

Political support has been building among South Australian MPs who will vote next month on whether to take the SA Voluntary Euthanasia Bill 2016 through to debate.

 “Our first priority is to get voluntary euthanasia legislation properly debated in Parliament so that we can establish a compassionate law with strong safeguards that will help people like Kylie, who are suffering.”

Also leading the lobbying effort for a law with strong checks and balances are the ANMF nurses, who witness the suffering of patients and their families, daily.

“Right now across Australia, nurses are providing treatment, care and emotional support to people who are suffering un-relievable pain,” ANMF Federal Secretary Lee Thomas says.

“They witness more than anyone else the damage, harm and trauma that is taking place in the absence of this legislation,” Ms Thomas said.

“We are seeking voluntary euthanasia laws that are completely voluntary; help people who face a terrible, lingering death; have strong checks and balances; and have doctors and nursing professionals at the centre of the process.

“A compassionate community should afford people the choice of a peaceful death when there are no other options available.

Polls consistently show that in excess of 75% of Australians support the introduction of VE laws.  A groundswell of support is building, with seven Victorian cabinet ministers recently coming out to support the introduction of legislation in that state.

South Australia is the only state with legislation currently before parliament and could become the first in Australia to pass voluntary euthanasia laws.

People wanting to offer their support to Kylie, and others like her, can sign up to the campaign at www.bethebill.com and create a personalised bill through Facebook, bearing their own name and photograph which is then sent to all South Australian parliamentarians.

The ANMF, with over 258,000 members, is the professional and industrial voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia. 

ANMF media inquiries: 0411 254 390.