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Opinion: Politicians have swerved the hard questions on euthanasia for too long

Death and taxes.

Andrea Vance ONE Voice
Andrea Vance ONE Voice Source: 1 NEWS

Taxes, politicians are happy to talk about. Death, not so much.

For years, MPs have avoided the euthanasia debate.

David Seymour’s assisted dying bill is stalled in the members’ bill ballot.

The debate around legislation to legalise voluntary euthanasia still continues to polarise many. Source: 1 NEWS

It’s at the whim of a lucky-dip system, which will see legislation about lost luggage debated ahead of life-and-death decisions.

So, now the national conversation is well overdue.

People can now delay death because of medical advances. But living longer often means a diminished quality of life.

Lecretia Seales’ courageous campaign and her death forced the issue. MPs were moved to launch a parliamentary inquiry, which begins hearing evidence next week.

Lecretia’s widower Matt Vickers will be the first to speak.

Around 22,000 people have written to the health select committee with their views. Some of the submissions are just one line, scribbled on a sheet of notepaper.

For the first time in history, a Health Select Committee is considering doctor-assisted death. Source: 1 NEWS

The sick and the dying are clamouring to make their voices heard at Parliament. Polarising issues and laws shouldn’t be decided on emotional and difficult cases.

But that’s the position we now find ourselves in because MPs have body swerved the hard questions for so long.

The inquiry parameters are not ideal.

The committee chose the broader issue of “ending one’s life” – which means submitters (some deliberately) are conflating assisted dying with suicide and suicide prevention.

This timorous approach will muddy the debate and likely inflame already sensitive feelings.

There is no guarantee of any law change at the end of this inquiry. But polls show two-thirds support changes to the law, which means the political will may finally have to shift.