Welcome to our Wednesday Wrap, where we provide you with some short takes on interesting and inspiring stories you may have missed.
SA defeats euthanasia legislation
A couple of weeks ago, the South Australian parliament rejected the 15th attempt to legalise euthanasia in that state. The bill was introduced to the Parliament as a Private Members’ Bill from Liberal MP Duncan McFetridge and championed by comedian Andrew Denton, and looked set to pass. But after a conscience vote resulted in a deadlock, Speaker Michael Atkinson used his casting vote to knock the legislation back.
Interestingly, he blamed the defeat on the bill on the fact that it was debated between 10pm and 4am. He said that the legislation was being considered by “sleepless and irritable MPs” and told ABC that:
Duncan McFetridge had a very bad six hours in which he was unable to answer most of the questions about this bill... If someone else had been put in charge of the bill, if it had been considered during daylight hours, clause by clause in a patient and sophisticated way, over several days, it may have been carried.
His comments were telling. If the MP proposing the legislation was not able to answer questions about its safeguards, then what assurance does the community have that fatal mistakes will not be made by those who are supposed to implement a euthanasia regime? And if a single sleepless night caused MPs to make what were considered to be “poor” decisions, what hope is there that those wearied from terminal or chronic illnesses and their families would be able to make “rational” ones?
Victoria could legalise euthanasia
Across the border in Victoria, it appears that there will be a push for assisted suicide in early 2017, with Premier Daniel Andrews giving the strongest indication yet that his government will accept the recommendation of a cross-party commission which proposed the legalisation of assisted dying in the state. A response is due tomorrow, but Mr Andrews told media that his government would provide “a way forward” and suggested that the death of his father from cancer this year has caused him to re-examine the views he had (Mr Andrews had previously expressed opposition to euthanasia.)
If, as expected, Mr Andrews announces his support for euthanasia tomorrow, it will be different in that it will be the first time that a euthanasia law has been proposed by a government, but it will be the same in that it will be the next in a long line of attempts to get euthanasia across the line in this country.
Every time it happens, though, we need to be vigilant. So we should await tomorrow’s announcement and respond with the same enthusiasm as usually marks our efforts for life.
Philip Nitschke launches new pro-euthanasia initiative
Suicide advocate Philip Nitschke this week launched Exit Action, labelled as the “militant” arm to euthanasia advocacy. The difference with Exit Action would be that unlike “traditional” euthanasia advocacy, the group would propose that members of the medical profession should not be required to approve a request for euthanasia. Instead, the group argues, euthanasia should be the “right” of every competent adult, not just the gravely ill.
The launch of this group could not come at a better time with Victoria looking likely to legalise euthanasia in the new year, because it demonstrates the logical conclusion of euthanasia advocacy.
Like Peter Singer, who recognises that the logic behind his pro-abortion stance requires him to also accept infanticide, Mr Nitschke is exhibiting intellectual honesty when he calls for euthanasia for everyone, be they sick or healthy. If abortion or euthanasia are deemed "rights," there is no logical reason to say that they should not - and will not - be made available to everyone, regardless of personal circumstances. This is why we need to actively oppose any legislation which would see euthanasia made legal in even "limited" circumstances
Should men be entitled to “financially abort” their children?
Over the weekend, columnist Catherine Deveny proposed that men should be able to “opt out” of parenthood by “financially aborting” their children: in essence, a biological father should have the same “reproductive rights” as women and so choose to decline to financially support their offspring and relinquish parental rights before their birth.
While “abortion” is obviously an emotive word, the result would not be the taking of a life. This does not make it an acceptable choice in any circumstances, though, because it involves a father refusing the duty he owes to guard and provide for his children and the woman who bore them, and a rejection of the exhortation for husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her.
But I wonder whether any serious ethical thought, even a utilitarian one, could find this an acceptable ethical choice. Single mothers and the children they are raising already suffer disproportionate poverty in "western" cultures like Australia, and the ability for a man to opt-out of financial responsibility for children would contribute to this form of poverty. Children would be innocent victims of this decision, and a “financial abortion” could also place undue pressure on a mother to undergo an abortion because she lacks the assurance of support from the child's father, either of his own choice or by legal obligation.
Hopefully, Ms Deveny’s piece will be considered as a fringe opinion rather than one which should be legitimately considered.
The continued push to degender parenting
In our last Wednesday Wrap, we discussed a proposed law in Ontario, Canada, which would remove the words ‘mother’ and ‘father’ from birth certificates and replace them with up to four non-gendered ‘parents.’ The All Families Are Equal Act passed last week, meaning that what was once a document created for the child as his or her primary form of identification is now merely another public statement of the emotional relationship of the adults who are supposed to be responsible for the child’s care.
Cherie Blair, wife of former British PM Tony Blair, separately added her voice to the push for degendered parenting, saying:
I think we shouldn't be talking about mothering or fathering - we should be talking about parenting, and we should allow couples to actually be able to organise a way of bringing up their children that suits both of them.
Her comments, it appears, have more to do with men and women having equal responsibility for the raising of their children, but it would be a mistake to pretend that mums and dads don’t matter to kids, because it’s simply not true.
Monica Doumit, Catholic Talk contributor