Thursday, 31 October 2013

Such tables 'new & improved' euthanasia bill in SA at eleventh hour

The independent member for the state seat of Fisher, Bob Such MP is full of surprises. Having been around the parliament for quite a while, including a stint as Speaker of the House, he knows all the tricks there are.

His latest shenanigan, today, saw him introduce yet another euthanasia bill while his earlier bill, introduced in February this year, remains on the notice paper awaiting debate. Strange that only a few weeks ago he was pressing his colleagues to allow time for that bill to be debated because, as of today, only two sitting days remain this year and in this parliament.

SA Parliament
Although Such claims that this new push is 'a significantly modified bill', closer examination shows that it suffers from much of the same flaws as the earlier model. The changes are largely cosmetic. He said in February, when introducing the Ending Life with Dignity Bill (Mark 1) that it was 'as tight as possible so there can be no abuse'. Why then the need for this new bill?

In June 2012, at the close of debate on yet-an-earlier Such bill, he said, "If palliative care is working, then I do not believe you need prematurely to end a life. You have to be in the final phase of a terminal illness." But Marks 1 & 2 of this year's offerings don't restrict access to the terminal phase at all. Has Such had a change of heart or is this more about a sales pitch? In speeches on all three bills he has claimed that the law would only be used by 'about a dozen people a year'. That simply can't be right in respect to all three because the last two broaden the definition beyond the 'terminal phase' of a 'terminal illness'.

This bill, like it's existing cousin, allows for euthanasia and assisted suicide and both are considered as 'medical treatment'. The term 'medical treatment' brings to mind actions or interventions that are beneficial, or at least benign; that bring healing and/or relief. Framing killing or assisting in killing as 'medical treatment' is really nothing more than a soft-sell - it's like a snake-oil salesman on speed!

One would normally expect a newly-minted bill at this stage in the parliamentary cycle to be adjourned to 'the back-of-the-queue'. After all, there are plenty of other bills whose sponsors have been waiting their turn and some bills that have already passed through the other debating chamber and are so close to becoming law. Somehow, however, this new bill is listed second on the Notice Paper for the 14th of November.

Such seems to have no mind for others in this cynical exercise. His kill bill Mark 1 would most certainly not have been resolved in this parliament given its position on the ballot paper, but it is no orphan. One wonders what other MPs think of this move and, indeed, what if they all played this game. 

There's clearly more to this stunt than meets the eye and Such has surely yet to play his last card. Regardless, this bill cannot become law. With but two days remaining, it would need to pass completely through both houses in that time. Even Bob Such can't make that a reality.


  1. Praying the last statement comes true but not holding my breath! The old saying, "A day is a long time in politics" comes to mind. Keep up your good work Paul.

  2. It is already the case that medical staff are deciding when to end a patient's life. Case history follows. Patient in question had pneumonia, not a terminal illness, but medical staff decided that they were going to give him drugs to 'make his end more comfortable', and then wrote the documentation around that. They claimed that the family was in agreement with the plan to sedate the patient, that the family had agreed to an NFR order, that the patient was suffering from acute stroke, acute or chronic renal failure, a blockage of the bowel, and multiple organ failure. Not a single one of these claims was true. They decided, and they acted. The family was told that the patient was to be treated with antibiotics, but was then given sedatives and analgeics instead -- drugs which are used in anaesthesia, in a dose equivalent to that used in anaesthetics. I can only assume that the 'antibiotics ruse' was to cover the administration of other drugs to the patient so that no questions would be asked. Hospital refuses to answer complaints on the matter but, if there is no case to answer, then why don't they respond? Someone also asked me recently what I think might happen if euthanasia is actually legalized, that is, if this kind of thing is happening now, what will it be like if it is made legal?

    1. I don't usually allow anonymous comments. I have on this occasion because the writer needs to know that what he or she describes - if the story is accurate - is homicide, pure and simple. For the sake of others, please report this to the Medical Ombudsman and or the Coroner.

    2. Dear Anonymous, I cannot post your subsequent comment for legal and professional reasons. If you want to discuss this further, please email me at .