‘Dark day’: Catholic Archbishop responds to ‘right to die’ laws
Written by Melissa Iaria
Date: 19th May 2022
The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney has lashed the decision to allow terminally ill people to have the right to choose to end their life in NSW after the state joined the rest of Australia to pass the law.
The voluntary assisted dying bill passed the third reading the upper house by 23 to 15 votes, before being officially endorsed by the lower house on Thursday afternoon.
The laws are expected to be introduced within 18 months.
NSW is the last state in the country to introduce the laws, which give people with a terminal illness that will cause prolonged suffering at the end of life the option to die a peaceful death.
Campaigners welcomed the development as ‘well overdue’. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Christian Gilles
Dying with Dignity NSW president Penny Hackett said the reform was “well overdue”.
“This is a historic moment for people in NSW who have been campaigning for decades so that terminally ill people don’t have to endure prolonged and unbearable suffering in their final days of life,” Ms Hackett said.
“This bill will give an immense sense of hope and relief to many people with a terminal illness who simply want to take back some control at the end of their life.”
The bill is expected to go before the NSW lower house later on Thursday. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts
The bill, drafted by Sydney MP Alex Greenwich, passed the lower house late last year, but has since undergone amendments in the upper house.
The laws have an 18 month implementation period.
“Sadly, it will be too late for many terminally ill people who are suffering right now,” Ms Hackett said.
However, the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, was saddened the bill had passed and called it a “truly dark day” for NSW.
“I am deeply saddened that the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 has passed the NSW Parliament,” he said in a statement.
“The disturbing nature of this legislation is compounded by the way the debate over amendments was conducted. All amendments put forward by those who would seek to make this deadly regime even a little bit safer were rejected.
“That no meaningful amendments were accepted speaks to a ‘winner takes all’ approach by the proponents of this bill and reveals an ugliness that has invaded our politics. This does not bode well for the protection of our most vulnerable citizens.
“The 57th parliament of NSW will be remembered as having the shameful record of passing two of the most anti-life pieces of legislation that exist in Australia, and indeed around the world.
“If civilisation is to be judged by how it treats its weakest members, the NSW parliament has failed miserably and has set a dark and dangerous path for all posterity, determining a new and disturbing definition of what it means to be human.
“I thank those few members in both houses of parliament who spoke out against this bill, often in the face of disdain and disparagement from their parliamentary colleagues, from pro-euthanasia lobby groups and from the media.
“I also thank members of the medical and legal professions, religious leaders of many faiths and pro-life groups who lobbied on behalf of the sick and elderly and their right to receive real choice at the end of life.
“Despite our disappointment, our fight for life does not end with this vote. If anything, it begins anew. We must redouble our efforts to care for those who are victims of the ‘throwaway culture’ and instead rebuild a culture of life and love in this state.”
Originally published as ‘Dark day’: Catholic Archbishop responds to ‘right to die’ law