South Australia is frightfully close to passing a bill that would legalize voluntary euthanasia. According to the bill’s sponsor, Mark Parnell, passage of the bill is not a matter of if, but when.
The legislation is closer to passage than any previous bill on euthanasia. It passed a second reading in the Upper House today with a vote of 11-10 and now will move on to the committee stage of the debate. If passed, it will move to the Lower House for a conscience vote to determine if the bill is to become law.
Unfortunately, it appears that most citizens of South Australia are in favor of legalizing voluntary euthanasia. According to a survey by Death with Dignity (a source that may cast some doubt on the results), 87% of South Australians support voluntary euthanasia, while only six percent oppose it. Similar but somewhat lower numbers are found throughout the rest of the country.
If passed, the bill would expand current medical treatment laws to include a five-person board of medical and palliative care experts who would provide approval for all voluntary euthanasia procedures. The board looks uncomfortable similar to the feared ‘death panels’ much discussed in the US.