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The debate over same sex marriage in Australia has been re-ignited by news that some members of the federal governing Liberal/National Party (LNP) coalition are proposing, contrary to their party’s policy, to introduce legislation in Federal Parliament this coming week to redefine marriage to extend it to same sex couples. In particular, press reports today indicate that a new Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 will be introduced, one feature of which is that it contains legislative protections for religious freedom, designed to encourage support of the legislation by believers. In my view the protections to be provided, if press reports about the proposal are accurate, are far too few and far too narrow, and the proposal cannot be seen as providing adequate protection for this fundamental human right.

Tuesday, 01 August 2017 09:34

Good Suicide Vs Bad Suicide

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If it looks like a duck and it quacks, then . . . On the same day that the Victorian Legislative Council Select Committee Inquiry into end of life choices report was released, the Prime Minister foreshadowed a new inquiry into suicide and its prevention. That evening, the ABC ‘Drive’ program ran the two news items consecutively. Whether this arrangement reflected an initiative of a program arranger or was completely fortuitous, is not known but the grouping of the two items failed to elicit any comment from the usually chirpy presenter ‘PK’. Nor were any text messages from listeners received by the ABC (or at least none were aired). Perhaps this was an early indication of a general failure to recognise that the term ‘assisted dying’ had a very well established currency overseas as a polite substitute for assisted suicide and/or euthanasia. It certainly represented an emphatic acknowledgement of the success of the Select Committee in quarantining the S word from polite conversation.  

Tuesday, 04 July 2017 08:37

The Educated Ignorantti

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[One of the most disappointing developments of the last 150 years or so has been the education of people. Once was a time when barely 1% of the population could read or write. It can be true to say not much development went on back then. One century went by much as the last one. But clever folk there were who nevertheless managed to rise and dispel some of the ignorance they encountered.  They were 'Elite'. For most people life, the world, reality was what they could see from the bottom of a deep hole of ignorance. That old 'Elite' actually knew a thing or two. They had worked out the value of knowledge. They had discovered ethics, right from wrong, morality and even manners. They gave us Chivalry, not to mention the combined knowledge and technologies of the past few millenia. Pretty good for far less than universal writing facility.

[The Mother Situation is a brilliant short film by Matt Day that explores three siblings and their plans to be rid of their ailing mother and to access her estate. It's a side-splitting comedy about a very dark subject that has implications for issues such as euthanasia, assisted suicide and elder abuse. The short film closes with the three accomplices waiting in their (now deceased) mother's lounge. A new character enters who we quickly learn is a real estate agent. As he provides an assessment of the value of their mother's property, the film closes at the siblings' jubilation. Michael Griffith's play, The Magnolia Tree is as far from a comedy as one can get. Similar to The Mother Situation, the play centres around three siblings, an ailing mother, conflicting directions, motives and emotions and ends with a 'kill or care' decision made by the audience. Again, it's all about the money.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017 08:51

The Challenge of Euthanasia

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The push to legalise euthanasia continues in the West. The Benelux countries led the way with legalisation (the Netherlands, 2002; Belgium 2002; Luxembourg, 2008), and some other states and countries have followed suit since then. While euthanasia is presented as something compassionate, it is anything but. Plenty of helpful resources on this are available, but here I want to mention two new resources which are worth being aware of. The first is a helpful piece in today’s Weekend Australia by Paul Kelly, and the second is a soon to be released book by myself. [This book is now available - Ed.]

Wednesday, 21 June 2017 18:17

5 Chilling Examples of Euthanasia's Slippery Slope

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"I am going to die anyway. I am not being involuntarily euthanized. My nearest and dearest sympathize with my decision. I have tried very hard to beat the disease, but I have had enough and want - quite literally in my case - to go and meet my maker."

Rev. John Cartwright

Assisted Dying: Who Makes the Final Decision?

These words were written by philosopher and Congregational minister, John Cartwright. He is also a member of the Inter-Faith Leaders for Dignity in Dying. John Cartwright's outlook is shared by many people who want to see euthanasia and assisted suicide legalised, and who are convinced that the so-called 'slippery slope' poses no danger to such legislation, because stringent safeguards will be written into the laws.

Tuesday, 06 June 2017 20:29

Abortion is a Human Rights Catastrophe

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Sometimes I'm stopped in the shopping centre by kind-hearted young people who are trying to raise money for various charities. One of them recently told me that diarrhea is the biggest killer of children under 5 worldwide. But I told him that abortion is the biggest killer of children world wide. [By a factor of 56!] In actual fact,  it's pneumonia that is the disease that kills the most children - it's responsible for 18% of childhood deaths worldwide. This still doesn't come close to the number of children lost to abortion, though. For children under the age of 5: 

Abortion is a Human Rights Catastrophe

According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, human rights are defined as "...the rights and freedoms contained in specific international instruments..." to which the ARHC adheres. These 'instruments' are 7 documents, including the Declaration on the Rights of the Child. Let's take a look at what the documents say about the right to life: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: 

Part III Article 6 

Convention on the Rights of the Child

Article 6 

Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities: 

Article 10 

Declaration of the Rights of the Child:

Introduction 

Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons:

Point 3 

Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons:

Points 1 & 2

Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief:

Article 5 part 5 - [This document doesn't specifically mention a right to life, since that right is assumed as a basis for desiring freedom of religion or belief. It does, however suggest that pre-born babies are to be protected from being aborted, for cultural reasons, on the basis of gender.] Regardless of what we might think of the United Nations, Australia is a signatory to the seven documents mentioned above. So why does our country pay only lip service to this most fundamental right, by allowing 100,000 babies to be slaughtered every year? Our government not only allows this killing on demand, but subsidises it, and promotes it through a sexualised education system. Far from discouraging abortions for flimsy reasons, it's permissible to abort on the basis of gender, or for a minor disability. This callous disregard for life flows into society and creates - not a haven from abuse, as we've been promised - but an increase in child abuse and the number of murders of pregnant mothers. If we fail to acknowledge the humanity of the preborn, how can we not be confused about glaringly fundamental facts such as the nature of marriage and even gender identification? It's no wonder that we have black deaths in custody. It's no wonder that detention centres are inhumane. And it's no wonder that the criminal justice system rewards perpetrators and blames the victims. If we can't get the basics right, then nothing else is going to work properly. If we don't respect the right to life of our children, then all other rights are meaningless. We don't have to look far for a humanitarian crisis: we have one at our own front door.