Euthanasia Bill hearing in Darwin

I’m in Darwin at the moment for Committee hearings into two separate private Senators’ Bills. One, introduced by Bob Brown, is aimed at restoring the right of the Northern Territory Parliament to legislate in areas relating to euthanasia. The other was introduced by me and is aimed at instituting a national system for providing compensation to the Stolen Generations. Unfortunately, being in Darwin means I had to miss the housing affordability inquiry hearings in my home town of Brisbane. Tuesday morning we hear peoples’ views about compensation for the stolen generations. The Monday hearings were into the euthanasia issue. A lot of people appear to have strong and unequivocal views either for or against euthanasia laws, but I find it quite a complex and difficult issue. Even though it is very unlikely that the legislation will be brought for a vote in the Senate prior to my term expiring at the end of June, I am still a member of the Committee inquiring into the matter and want to express some views in the Committee’s report.

Bob Brown’s Bill as it stands has the intent of trying to make the pervious euthanasia laws passed by the Northern Territory Parliament in 1995 operational once again by repealing the federal law from 1997 which quashed it. However, some of the legal advice to the Inquiry suggests that it is uncertain whether that can lawfully be done. The fallback option would be simply to restore the power of the Territories (including the NT) to be able to once again legislate on euthanasia should they wish to do so again in the future. The law passed by the federal parliament in 1997 not only quashed the NT law, but prevents the NT (or the ACT or Norfolk Island) from being able to legislate at all on the issue of euthanasia. 

I fully understand that euthanasia is an issue people can have very strong feelings about, but I sometimes find it frustrating when people on either side of the issue express views in absolutist or strident terms. At its worst, a picture is painted where one is either a religious fanatic with no care for individual suffering who is trying to impose their religious beliefs on everyone else or else a death worshipper with no respect for the sanctity of life who is happy to see old people bumped off just to stop them taking up valuable space in nursing homes. I don’t think cartoonish portrayals of the perspectives help the debate at all, but I must say the vast majority of evidence presented at this hearing from all aspects of the issue was presented in a constructive and non-judgemental way. (One brief exception was the suggestion by former NT Chief Minister, and chief architect of the original NT euthanasia law, Marshall Perron, that the views of religious organisations on this issue should be dismissed. I can understand why he would be hugely peeved that the NT was quashed, but I still think this sort of statement is excessive).

One witness I was especially interested in hearing from was Dr Philip Nitschke, who is probably the best known euthanasia advocate in Australia, and is also the doctor who carried out euthanasia on the four people who were able to make use of the Northern Territory euthanasia law before it was quashed by the federal Parliament. While I have plenty of sympathy for the pro-euthanasia position, in the past some of his public statements and actions have made me quite uneasy. But I was quite impressed with his contribution to this hearing. His views are very strong, but he presented them very articulately and succinctly, and didn’t try to weasel around some of the complexities of the issue.

Similarly, I’ve found the judgementalism of the Australian Christian Lobby a bit hard to stomach at times in the past, especially on gay and lesbian issues, and I was pleasantly surprised that in the main their presentation stuck to the substance of their concerns – although their submission also contained one of those over the top assertions, stating that “voluntary euthanasia is never a truly free decision” – a statement they did back away from under questioning.

The evidence from the Palliative Care Unit at Royal Darwin Hospital was also very interesting. One of their witnesses stated that some people are averse to entering palliative care in Darwin specifically because of a misplaced fear that they may be euthanased, while very occasionally people still arrive from elsewhere in Australia specifically hoping to achieve that outcome.

I am sure high quality palliative care significantly reduces the number of people who want to bring a premature end to their life. However, even with best palliative care in the world, I find it hard to believe that there would not still be some people, even if only a small number, who come to a fully considered, informed and rational decision that they still want to bring their life to an end. The question really boils down to whether or not such people should have a legal right to seek and receive assistance for this, or whether providing such a right creates some sort of unacceptable risks to other more vulnerable people.

It’s certainly an issue which still generates significant public interest, with about 450 submissions to date. The Committee reports in mid-June, although it should be emphasised that private Senator’s (that is, non-government) Bills often do not get brought to a vote. Personally, I’d be surprised if the federal government wanted to re-open this issue by allowing it to come on for a full debate and vote, but one can never tell.

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  1. Hi apprentice:

    I had forgotten that M. Scott Peck was a psychiatrist. I think a large percentage of people practising that profession have more problems than the people they treat.

    My information was that he became a Zen Buddhist after writing 3 or more of his increasingly weird books. But in any case, I think he was a weirdo, regardless of either religious preference or profession.

  2. Yesterday I listened to an interview on ABC Conversation Hour of a year ago(Richard Fydler)with a journalist who died last week from cancer.She made the point,that an overwhelming number of people in Australia consistently vote in favour of voluntary euthanasia,which is true. She also spoke of the many ways that medical science, individual medical practitioners,churches etc FORCE people to stay alive, regardless of how THEY feel.I’d add, that people force others to stay alive, while they,personally, don’t take any responsibility or even interest in how they cope with this lingering & painful life.

    Lorikeet,I find it amazing, that after your many accounts of government/s forcing opinion/actions on us you think it’s OK for us to be denied the right to READ A BOOK!Don’t you think you have the ability to read a book and decide on what, if any, actions,thoughts etc you’ll practice or advocate.I’m 63 years of age. I don’t need Tony Abbott or George Pell or ? to tell me what to read.I totally reject your view, that I must be protected from myself,ONLY in this instance.There’s no consistency here.Long ago I decided,that the Catholic church in particular had an unhealthy interest in the sex lives of adult couples-they and other denominations force their beliefs on the rest of us.
    I join with the woman interviewed,who agreed that there should be protections that would prevent vulnerable people from being ‘coerced’ into finishing their lives.I’m horrified that adult children could wish to ‘bump off’ aged parents for money(wouldn’t apply to me-haven’t got any)but that’s murder,and would be treated as such. There’s been well documented cases of this very situation recently resolved by criminal trials by judges/juries.
    But,I maintain, that we should have the right in a so-called democracy to read what we like,& abide by our own set of standards moral & otherwise re voluntary euthanasia. Why are govts too ‘scared’ to have a referendum?

  3. Naomi:

    If the country was run the way you would like it, there would be NO CONTROLS on any form of literature, including pornography – unless you only want to apply unrestricted access to banned material to yourself. It sounds that way to me.

    You want to read Nitschke’s book, but there are those who have their preferred banned items also. I have no doubt that paedophiles also think they’re “older and wiser” and ought to have access to anything THEY choose.

    I’m sure you’d be the first to object if THEY got their hands on banned material.

    I wouldn’t know what I would think or do after reading a particular book, since I haven’t even read it in order to make a decision! I think the government has acted wisely in this matter.

    People could easily be “bumped off” on the sly, without anybody being charged with murder.

    I think the reason the government doesn’t call a referendum (apart from the cost) is because politicians know that many people don’t have the wherewithal to examine all sides of the debate effectively.

  4. Lorikeet-Like the Howard govt champions of the NT intervention,it’s pretty low to infer that I support pedophiles choice of reading because I disagree with reading material on EUTHANASIA being censored.I hasten to add,that the cencors are quick to ban non-violent consensual sex from movies etc,but show hypocrisy by allowing horrific violent DVD’s & Game Boy games from the public,regardless of age.Which has the most impact or influence on impressionable minds-I believe that violence wins that argument!
    The reason you give for govts denying a peoples’ vote on a topic is pretty weak.Democracy to some ends with 3-4yr elections-they don’t want to acknowledge that between 70-80%of the population agree with voluntary euthanasia.They don’t want the fight with the biggest lobby group in the country-the churches!Otherwise,what do they fear?Democracy itself?
    If you don’t think you have the capacity to research euthanasia,don’t pin that label on myself or others.
    The point has recently been made,that apart from the sudden & dramatic deaths(drop dead heart attacks,strokes,car accidents etc)most deaths have had a lot of intervention to retain life-sometimes to ludicrous extent.I don’t want to be dictated to as to how I live my life or when I may choose to end it.I hasten to add,that I hope to be around for a long time yet,but who knows what’s around the corner.I heard this morning,that cancer rates are,1 in 2 males & 1 in 3 females.Chances are,that many of us on this post will be diagnosed in the future-that’s the reality.Some will fight & survive(I hope)others will fight & die-they may like to choose how long they fight.
    The population is ageing,so the decision may be forced on govts by public opinion/actions. People won’t have “the wherewithal to examine all sides of the debate effectively”-how true,if govts allow materials/public debate on ONE side ONLY.

  5. Lorikeet #52: Well put! Your extrapolation of Naomi Cartledge’s argument is logical & clear to me (even if it gets Naomi’s gander going yet again). Anarchy rules?

    Naomi Cartledge #51 #53: With a view to critically reviewing your anti-God bothering position, I’d be interested to hear the nature of the polls/votes/studies/”finger in the wind” sources that drew you to conclude that

    70-80% of the population agree with voluntary euthanasia.

    Clearly, as a purportedly statistical but unsourced statement, it’s about as rubbery as a toy chook.

  6. I said this in comment #53 70-80% of the population agree with voluntary euthanasia.”

    GLZ#54″Clearly, as a purportedly statistical but unsourced statement, it’s about as rubbery as a toy chook.”

    GLZ,why don’t you PROVE IT then!

    The woman who said it,and I’ve heard these figures before,was a guest on the ABC Conversation Hour.Her interview of last year was played again – go to the website & listen yourself. She died last week from cancer!She was a long time journalist with The Age!(20 yrs from memory).It could be argued that due to her illness plus her professional life,she may have more information/research at her disposal.
    I think a poll taken today would probably back that comment!

  7. Yes GZG I tend to agree with you on this one, I hadn’t entered the argument as the usual reaction when debate is too hard is playing the paternalism and sexist card.

    I think that the new found Hayekian libertarianism displayed by the poster to whom you refer would be swiftly withdrawn if the issue was one that they didn’t support. This support would be withdrawn even if someone else protested that they were old enough and intelligent enough to do as they wished without any interference – as with other people on other posts we have a selective application of regulation to suit.

    The issue really is that we have a governance process of development and implementation of social regulation, we may not like it or agree with it, but we have it. Thankfully unlike some other countries we also have the right to protest and raise our objections.

    I actually also agree with Naomi on the points raised about euthanasia and the book; however the fact that I might agree or not agree doesn’t alter that fact that the governance process we have has taken another course. To change the situation one needs to engage in the governance process, it’s not a question of rights, rather the alternative to self regulated anarchy.

  8. GLZ-I hasten to add, that you only ask me to prove my source.Interesting how Lorikeet can make some pretty outrageous suggestions,implications, and not once did you ask for proof.These included the insinuation, that 5 aged deaths in a facility was at best suspicious- no proof- no medical knowledge – no histories,nothing! Your silence proves, that you don’t challenge views you disagree with, only those who make statements, comments, that you don’t agree with. I think it’s called being inconsistent, showing bias etc! How many of your own comments, assertions do you back up with proven facts?

  9. Naomi:

    In regard to your reply to GZG regarding “rubbery figures”, you give an example of an interviewee with a terminal illness quoting the 70-80% statistic which relates to people agreeing with voluntary euthanasia.

    I suggest you think a little more about the biased position this person could be speaking from.

    I will reiterate that the issue expands out to something much more than “voluntary euthanasia”, as it applies to real life and real situations.

    You don’t want paedophiles to have access to banned materials, which is well and good. But my point was that you can’t apply a different set of rules purely to yourself where banned materials are concerned.

    If a referendum were to be held, the general public would need to be very well educated as to the many downsides and skulduggeries attached to legalised suicide/murder.

  10. Naomi #55: I did actually read your posts #51 #53 before replying (makes for a more meaningful response I’ve found … try it sometime).

    So your anecdotal source was a journo’ you heard on the radio?

    Game-set-match, with your cunning slam, my now tenuous position dictates no response be given….

    ….oh, OK, just a little one then. I’ve googled this but cannot determine what percentage of statistics are made up on the spot? Please help!

  11. Ken #56: [must turn bold off this time] – Notwithstanding some differences of opinion, I did mean to commend you on your insightful and objective comments…. a refreshing contrast to some herein!

  12. [corrected post]
    Naomi #55: I did actually read your posts #51 #53 before replying (makes for a more meaningful response I’ve found … try it sometime).

    So your anecdotal source was a journo’ you heard on the radio?

    Game-set-match, with your cunning slam, my now tenuous position dictates no response be given….

    ……oh, OK, just a little one then. I’ve googled this, but cannot determine what percentage of statistics are made up on the spot? Please help!

  13. In 1997 70% of people surveyed by the University of Queensland were in favour of euthanasia in some circumstances.

    Medical practitioners in favour were 33%
    The survey in 1997 is significant because it was the year when the NT bill was overturned by the COmmonwealth.

    In 2007 Senator Lynn Allison quoted a Newspoll survey (NOT a terribly reliable source in my view) giving the statistic as 80% of the general population in favour.
    That survey is quoted here,

    but more detail about the results of Morgan Polls in 2002 is alo given. I’m not saying that the only factor in passing laws ought to be their popularity, otherwise we’d have capital punishment again, and I’m not in favour of that, for more reasons than the Chamberlain case, but that ought to weigh heavily with capital punishment advocates.

    For what it is worth, the statistics do seem to bear out what Naomi (?) said about public opinion.



  14. GZG-“Your silence proves, that you don’t challenge views you disagree with, only those who make statements, comments, that you don’t agree with.”I obviously made a mistake with the first ‘disagree’ it should have been ‘agree’.
    Lorikeet,I hardly think that revolting material depicting criminal images of children can be likened to reading a book about euthanasia!Just having those images is a serious crime,as indeed it should.
    There are laws & ethical standards that I’m sure could be established,but we’re not even allowed to have a public debate or read THAT book on the subject. It’s ridiculous!It treats us all like children! It’s OK to discuss many serious issues in our society, why not this one? There was an Insight program about a well publicized case in New Zealand,where a woman was jailed for assisting her mother to die. Tragic case!I think it was after that when Phillip Nitsche’s book was released and banned, which also included banning public debate I believe!
    I know that in the past,when the question is raised, the majority believe that in certain circumstances, euthanasia should be an option as pointed out by #62 apprentice.
    She wasn’t just a ‘journo’ she was a senior writer for The Age.She gave the same stats as ‘apprentice’ just did.
    There’s an interesting Court case going on in NSW at the moment.A woman has been charged with the murder of her partner,who had Alzeimers Disease and another form of dementia;her trial is taking place now.Her partner died from an overdose of Nembutal, a drug purchased overseas; allegedly, upon his request.We’ll see how it turns out.I learnt from being on jury duty that the media reports of evidence aren’t an adequate guide, as there’s a chance of ‘spin’ being put on it.No wonder jurists are advised not to read the papers or discuss the case with others. Sitting in the court room every day is often different to media reports.

  15. apprentice:

    Your statistic that only 33% of qualified medicos agreed to voluntary euthanasia IN ONLY SOME CIRCUMSTANCES is quite telling.

    According to your second link, 75% of the people agreed only in circumstances of UNRELIEVABLE SUFFERING.

  16. Apprentice: Thank you, your searches were more successful than mine (& evidently than Naomi’s). Unfortunately, I’ve only been able to get to the abstract of the quoted 11 year old study published in the AMJ, but like Lorikeet, I notice the marked contrast between “the community” and doctors in their reported opinions and wonder how one might account for the variation. Greater confidence in medicine (by Dr’s) perhaps?

    Naomi Cartlidge #57 etc: Your 3 day silence was also noted.

    “we’re not even allowed to have a public debate …. sure about this???????

    It seems that you’re still carrying that chip on your shoulder. Nobody is really attacking you personally (I’m sure you mean well albeit as a radical feminist non-God botherer). Rather, some challenge your sweeping generalizations and the unreliable sources to which you sometimes attempt to tether an argument.

    You rebuke my challenge to your cherished sanctioned suicide statistic by claiming that “Not once did I ask for proof” (on an unrelated matter)! Read my posts (“you should try it sometimes”). You could start with #21 above. Having said that, I have let more than a couple of your own outrageous posts alone (eg. re: abortion rates, this being aptly addressed by Lorikeet #44).

    Regarding nursing home deaths, Lorikeet testified to what she personally saw, drew some (I think) questionable possible conclusions, but then clearly stopped short of declaring these as facts. The pros & cons of those conclusions have been discussed by other posters eg. #30 & yourself @ #39/41. You really wouldn’t want all posters to comment on your dubious assertions would you?

    Feel ever free to challenge my own comments or assertions.

    And don’t believe everything you see on TV or read in the papers. There’s many a hidden agenda to be found.

  17. Just to add to the confusiion GZG

    “I learnt from being on jury duty that the media reports of evidence aren’t an adequate guide, as there’s a chance of ’spin’ being put on” – (excpet where it conicides with my argumennt)

  18. GZG:

    I think doctors are more conservative about such matters for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s their job to save lives and relieve suffering – not kill people.

    They would also have a broader understanding of the subject material than most people, and they probably aren’t in any rush to be pressured into murdering people – especially not by greedy or ill-informed relatives.

    They are also more likely to have the perspicacity to understand that conservative laws can soon be amended in a less conservative direction.

    I spoke to an IVF specialist last week. He said abortion clinics kill more babies than his clinic creates, and that abortion is now used by many people as a form of contraception.

    Although the doctor is a Christian, he is forced by legislation to treat lesbians or be sued for discrimination.

    Now let’s apply the same concepts to doctors being asked to terminate people, and I think we will have our answer.

    They will be left without a choice, despite having sworn an Hippocratic Oath.

  19. Muzz: Provocateur! At the risk of being recognised as just a tad fundamental, I can’t quite see the hands of God being behind your endorsed crop.

    Please, enlighten us the theological basis of your position.

  20. Muzz:

    According to the Old Testament, God created Adam and Eve – not Adam and Steve – and not Anna and Eve.

  21. I don’t have long as I’m about to go away for the weekend, but I’d say two things:
    1. The Bible contains a hell of a lot of references about helping those in need and very few about sexuality – which seems to have an awful lot of attention paid to it.
    2. Is it a Christian doctor’s role to judge others and provide (or not provide) medical services based on his or her morality?

  22. muzzmonster: “I’m a mass murderer and in need of some more gas shells … would you help me please, I am truly in need?”

    1. The Bible has plenty to say about mothers, fathers, children, family life, and too reuse the hackneyed line, nothing about Adam & Steve bringing up children.

    2. I see not the slightest problem with a doctor working within their own moral framework, or do you seek to vilify them for religious reasons?

    Enjoy your weekend but reserve some time for mindfulness.

  23. I am not in favour of IVF at all, I consider it a waste of medical resources that could be used to better ends, like treating the easly remedied illnesses poor people and in particular aboriginal people suffer from. (And yes I do know they are different specialisations, to which I would point out that you and I paid for the training of those doctors, and the community ought to have some say in what they do with that training.)

    However, I see no reason why two women or two men can’t be perfectly good parents and sicne we seem to have moved away from the thread again, I agree with the person who said something along the lines of wondering why some people put so much emphasis on other people’s sexuality when the main theme of the New Testament (and that or other widely followed religious books) seeems more to be about how we can look after each other, not judge each other.

    Nobody is advocating wholesale murder being legalised, but we kid ourselves if we think that there are no shades of grey in many medical decisions, and that forms of words are not used every day to e.g. terminate life support for someone whose ‘life’ is declared pointless despite some beeping still coming from machines. There will be mistakes made, yes. There are now, and will be under any future euthanasia law. Someone has to decide the balance of harm to the individual, versus potential harm to society in general. We can’t entirely prevent greed and hatred getting past the law in other ways … but why prevent _discussion_? Why prevent information being disseminated? People know many ways to commit suicide now – many that harm those who are not able to do it competently. How many doctors, nurses, scientists or pharmacists, who must now what we are not allowed to know, commit suicide with the knowledge we are not allowed to have? I wonder if anyone has ever looked into that? Or is it hushed up?

  24. apprentice:

    I don’t think most people need a higher education on how to kill themselves.

    The government should stick with positive, uplifting education about how to establish a sense of community and mutual support – instead of the current dogma of greed and selfishness.

    I’m in favour of all heterosexual couples who can’t have children any other way having access to IVF.

    Most of the opponents of IVF have their own children already. I think that’s selfish. There are no children to adopt due to the legalisation of abortion on demand.

    Now the government is conducting a television campaign to attract more foster parents. I think some of those kids (in specific circumstances) should be put up for adoption so they can have stable homes.

  25. Lorikeet: there are children all over the world who need more support. In China and Myanmar/Burma today there are children with an urgent need. What would-be-IVF parents want is a child to ‘own’, one to have at home. Throughout history there have been people like that, some of whom found other ways to contribute to children’s lives, by fostering, for which the need is immense, by adoption of kids from places like Myanmar, or other ways to support kids, either live-in ones or otherwise.

    There is no right to have a child, in my view. But there are many kids who need and deserve more support, to give them a chance at a fulfilled life.

  26. Lorikeet #74: Great opening line and I agree wholeheartedly! This may be a little passé, but (at odds with your later statement), I’m in favour of married couples who can’t have children any other way having self funded access to IVF. Commitment is a great starting point for bringing children into the world!

    Most of the opponents of IVF have their own children already

    You’re generalising again Lorikeet, though it was an easy shot.

    apprentice #73 & 75: Valid points in the first paragraph of #75 noted. But you’re position seems to be that we have a “right to die” yet bizarrely, no “right to have a child”??? Tell me I’ve got this wrong! I acknowledge (but don’t support) your pro-homosexual parenting stance, but I’m hoping you simply object to government funded IVF rather than to the right to have children naturally.

    You see “no reason why two women or two men can’t be perfectly good parents” Your idea of perfection is at odds with me personally, society in general, and dare I suggest, more than a few reports of the import of maternal & paternal role models. Want some citations?

  27. GZG – if it worries you, leave out the word “perfectly”, all I meant was that a mixed couple, 2 gay folk or other combinations, such as grandparents, older siblings, etc can be competent parents.

    I come from a nuclear family, quite conventional, parented by a man and a women, married to each other, and comprising an alcoholic and a drug abuser, one of whom psychologically, sexually and physically abused me and my 2 siblings, while enabling their parent to sexually abuse one of us. I don’t therefore believe that the apparently conventional make-up of a family says anything about the type of environment it creates for child-rearing.

    I’m not sure why you are confused by my not seeing that two people have a ‘right’ to have children. Perhaps you’d like to say why you think they do?

  28. Apprentice: I assume you meant superficially conventional family.

    You’re right, anything’s possible, including good things coming out of bad situations – hopefully you are a one of those good things (given the bad situation you recount).

    The fact that depravity can lurk beneath the surface of a seemingly conventional family does not negate my point that in an ideal (perfect if you like) family, there will be positive role models by way of a father and a mother providing an environment conducive to raising children to be normal healthy functional adults. Colloquially, it’s called “starting on a good footing”.

    Given your painful and tragic background, I can see why you would reject the notion of this “good footing”, as the male & female role models of your youth trashed your perspective (no disrespect to you intended).

    If a man and his wife wish to have children (& I’m not referring to IVF here), I believe they have a right to do so. An oppressive government may attempt to deny that right, or family members may attempt to influence them, but the choice is theirs (and surely not yours nor a nanny states).

    Of course, like many rights, they come with conditions & responsibilities …. need I go on?

  29. It’s getting off topic, but the Bible says all sorts of things we now consider bizarre and old fashioned.

    And I think doctors need to provide services and be judged to a standard separate from their own framework. Otherwise we would have doctors denying services to black people, gay people, or women even. And maybe not finding it offensive to have sex with patients.

    Society defines rules so we can rely on more than any given individual’s morality.

  30. GZG: I expressed myself badly again – I meant there is no right, in my opinion, to have a child such that people have the ability to demand taxpayers’ dollars to fund it if they have medical problems to difficult to fix in any other way.

    And getting back to the point of the thread, I didn’t say I was for euthanasia. I said I am aware that many people try to suicide and are unable to do so successfully due to lack of information about methods that are unlikely to give them more problems, or at least to fail. I’d prefer for that information to be available for discussion and evaluation by the rest of us, and possibly for use by those who are in unbearable pain or otherwise not able to live in dignity and peace. My grandmother died aged 95, tormented by dementia, and if I could have spared her the last 4 momths of her ‘life’ I would have. That was her wish. Similar story with my grandfather.

  31. apprentice:

    If you’re going to apply your set of rules to IVF treatment i.e. if you are infertile you may not benefit from available treatment because you are too poor, do you expect that only rich people should have that opportunity? Seems fairly disgusting to me.

    I have 2 naturally conceived children, one IVF (GIFT) child, and for 18 years, I sponsored 2 “foster” children from Central America.

    My sister has 2 adopted Korean children, after experiencing a lack of success with infertility treatment. There were no Australian children available for adoption because these days people terminate children they don’t want.


    I think the society has little morality left, which is the biggest part of the problem.

    “…. the bible says all sorts of things WE now consider bizarre and old fashioned.”

    Please speak for yourself, because a large number of “WE” may not agree with your statement.

  32. Lorikeet – there are many things in this world that rich people can buy that I can’t. I’d like a house in Queensland, for example, where the climate would suit the arthritis of a family member better than where we are.

    I’m glad to hear you are happy with your IVF child, but I feel it is not right for the rest of us to pay large sums for someone who cannot have a child to get one to take home, when it is not a life-threatening condition to be childless. There are scarce medical resources and many people who need care. That may mean that some people who would make excellent parents end up with no children at home when there are kids who need support are denied that. That’s a bigger social problem than IVF treatment, and not one that IVF research can cure. Look after the living first would be my philosophy.

  33. Do you have any children, apprentice? If so, I don’t think you have a right to dictate childlessness for others.

    The foster system is atrocious, partly because there are not enough social workers to service either it or the needs of struggling families. Kids get shunted around all over the place, sometimes suffering sexual abuse in the process.

    With nearly all of the adults working, there is no one to look after them anyway – hence the current prime time media campaign for foster parents.

    Putting certain children up for adoption would make a great deal of sense.

    There are plenty of poor people living in houses in Queensland. I think housing is still cheaper here than it is interstate, so a move might not be out of the question for those who might benefit.

    Returning from the nursing home again today, I think I would rather be dead than live in those negligent conditions, made worse by dreadful wages and a decrease in visitors – also the result of Howard trying to send EVERY adult out to work.

    The spotcheckers have been back … might as well whistle as expect changes to occur.

  34. Lorikeet, do you think you should be able to own slaves? Should poeple be put to death for practicing homosexual sex? Should women have to cover their heads in church? Should it be wrong to sow two different grains in a field? Should it be wrong to wear cloth with difference weaves? Should we consider menstruating women as unclean?

    All these things are from Leviticus and I (and a large proportion of society) would consider all of those as bizarre and old fashioned.

  35. Muzz:

    Out of the things you mentioned, I think there could be a good reason for the comment on menstruating women (transmission of STDs, or causing them to haemorrhage), which is certainly relevant to homosexuality as well.

    Sowing 2 different grains in a field could inhibit production, or cause transmission of pestilence or disease.

    Since we didn’t live in biblical times and we don’t know the context or reasoning behind your excerpts, I cannot comment further. The weave of the cloth is an interesting one.

    To my knowledge, the bible doesn’t tell us to kill our unborn children or terminate the elderly and the weak.

  36. You’re right Lorikeet. We don’t live in Biblical times and the Bible is not always a fool proof guide to decisions in our modern society.

    I’m not suggesting that it doesn’t provide good general advice for how to live a good life with all of our neighbours, but that it isn’t a rule book. In facte I consider much of my morality is based on the tenets of helping the poor, voiceless and downtrodden.

  37. Lorikeet: I do have a child, whose birth cost the taxpayer nothing, since in those days we had to pay for our stay in hospital. Yes, I’m lucky in that respect since we were farm workers then, and living well below the poverty line, with husband and wife milking cows and feeding calves to get a house to live in and a bare minumum wage. Since then I have managed to gain a white collar job after childminding 4 kids under the age of 5 during the day and studying at night. I’m not sure why you think my having a child renders me ineligible to have an opinion on whether scarce health resources should be devoted to giving childless people the chance to have a child when other people have debilitating or life threatening conditions that are not being addressed. There are kids in the NT whose health problems were identified by ‘the intervention’ almost a year ago who have had no treatment yet, let alone the problems suffered by the rest of the population there. They would be my first priority, along with the nursing homes you speak of, and the many parents who have kids with disabilities who are struggling along at home with hardly any community help at all. If these priorities seem skewed to you, I’m sorry.

  38. apprentice:

    I agree with a good deal of what you’re saying. I just think couples have a right to access fertility clinics if they cannot have children any other way, and to be helped financially if they are poor.


    I nearly had an argument with one of my social worker friends last night. She is fanatically anti-smacking, but doesn’t care if people abort unborn children on a whim.

    Regardless of whether or not people are Christians (and I don’t claim to be one), there are things that are good for a society and things that are bad … or could become bad if misused.

    That’s why I oppose both abortion and euthanasia. I think the smack should stay, or get a new lease on life, but a bashing should go.

  39. I think this thread has been well off-topic for quite a while now and is at a stage where everyone in the conversation has had their say, so I will close off comments on it now.

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