Victoria to debate assisted suicide
by Michael Cook | 10 Dec 2016 |
The Labor Government of the Australian state of Victoria will introduce legislation into the Parliament next year to legalise assisted suicide. The Labor Party will allow its MPs a conscience vote.
Assisted suicide recently failed in the South Australian Parliament, but only after the Speaker cast the deciding vote. Supporters of change have been buoyed up by their near miss in Adelaide and by a widely publicized campaign orchestrated by media personality Andrew Denton.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is a late convert to the cause of assisted suicide after his father died of cancer earlier this year. “Community sentiment on this issue is changing” he says, “and I know many in Victoria think it’s time we have this debate – a debate that respects people’s views and respects people’s lives.”
A discussion paper will be released for public comment early next year, followed by consultations with stakeholders. The Government expects to introduce the legislation in the second half of 2017.
Victorian Sex Party MP Fiona Patten welcomed the Government's "bold" move. "Allowing terminally ill people the right to die when they choose with dignity, is not only compassionate but common sense," she said.
When there’s talk of border crossings and illegal Mexican migrants, my thoughts used to turn to the ugliness of Donald Trump’s dream: "I will build a great wall -- and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me --and I'll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border.”
But after reading a remarkable feature in California Sunday Magazine, I’m trying to think about 66 Garage instead. The name of Mr 66 Garage may not ring a bell with you, but to be fair, it doesn't ring one with him either. He is an undocumented migrant whose truck overturned on a border crossing in June 1999. He hit his head and never woke up.
Ever since 66 Garage has lived in a persistent vegetative state in a San Diego nursing home where he is given round-the-clock care. What a country America is: it produces a politician who treats illegal migrants as if they were cockroaches and nurses who treat them as if they were their own family.
Anyhow, this 18-20-year-old man had taken the “undocumented” part of his journey seriously. He could not be identified and the nursing home christened him 66 Garage, although some of the staff protested that it was undignified. A wonderful woman named Paula visited him every week for 15 years and wondered who he was.
There are thousands upon thousands of missing migrants and their relatives are desperate to find them. A photo of 66 Garage has been shared more than 300,000 times on Facebook. Earlier this year a friend of Paula’s took an interest in the case and 66 Garage was finally fingerprinted. A match led to his sister in the southern state of Oaxaca. Now she can wave at him over Skype on his birthday.
It’s a remarkable story about vulnerability, dignity, blood ties, and American generosity. Read it.
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