A Federal Labor MP says the potential repercussions of voluntary euthanasia “are too horrible to contemplate”, The West Australian reports.
Perth MP Tim Hammond is at odds with senior Labor figures, including WA Premier Mark McGowan.
Mr Hammond said the years he spent working as a lawyer representing hundreds of terminally ill mesothelioma patients and having witnessed loved ones die reaffirmed how precious life was.
“I have a terrible feeling that once we start up this ride, we won’t be able to get off it,” Mr Hammond, a member of Opposition leader Bill Shorten’s front bench and a rising star of the ALP, said.
“Even if there is only one person who wants to die prematurely pursuant to this legislation, but then changes their mind at the very last minute but feels that they can’t do anything about it, the circumstances are too horrible to contemplate.”
Victoria last week became the first state to legalise assisted dying. Those approved to die by euthanasia will be administered the deadly drug within 10 days.
In WA, a committee has been formed to examine “end of life choices”, with Mr McGowan hoping legislation will be brought before the WA parliament next year for a conscience vote.
Mr Hammond’s decision to speak out means he joins former Labor PM Paul Keating in opposing voluntary euthanasia.
“As legislators, let’s be very clear eyed in what we would be doing if we were to vote for such a law. As Paul Keating has said, it means permitting physicians to intentionally kill patients or assisting patients in killing themselves,” he said.
Mr Hammond said his experience with death had been both “personal and professional”.
“I stood alongside my father whilst he took his last breath and his heartbeat slowly faded away. He left this world at 54 — far too young — as a result of losing a long-running battle with illness.”
On Saturday Mr McGowan reaffirmed his support for voluntary euthanasia for the terminally ill, “providing appropriate safeguards are in place”.
“This is an issue that should be treated on its merits, without political interference. I’ll argue my position like everyone else. This is a matter for each individual member of parliament to evaluate, above party politics,” he said.
MP Tim Hammond draws on father’s death to plead against euthanasia (The West Australian)
Tim Hammond: Euthanasia and why I’m against it (Perth Now)