Australia Prime Minister Opposes Euthanasia, But Will Allow Conscience Vote

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 2, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Australia Prime Minister Opposes Euthanasia, But Will Allow Conscience Vote

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 2
, 2008

Sydney, Australia ( — Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says he is opposed to voluntary euthanasia or assisted suicide but says he will allow members of the Australia Parliament to have a conscience clause.

Russ said he’s concerned that overturning laws prohibiting assisted suicide would lead to elderly and disabled patients thinking they are a burden to their loved ones.

"I say that as someone who has … been in family circumstances where you’ve seen people very near and dear to you, in the case of myself, my mother, who died of cancer," he told Macquarie Radio Network.

Rudd told the radio network his opposition to euthanasia is "not some sort of abstract ideological point of view".

"It’s just my own personal view … that if you changed the laws in this area, I do become concerned about the way in which these things can drift over time," he said.

If a vote comes up in the parliament, Rudd said he would leave his party members open to voting with their own feelings.

"It’s not pretty to watch but my own personal view … these are matters for conscience votes," he added. "If it becomes a matter for vote in the federal parliament, people exercise their conscience differently."

"All these life matters, including euthanasia, have historically been the subject of a conscience vote on the part of our government’s members," he said.

According to a Sydney Morning Herald report, the Australia Senate is currently considering a decision by the previous government to overturn the Northern Territory’s euthanasia laws.

Australian Greens senator Bob Brown has introduced a private member’s bill to reverse the decision and allow the territory to again legalize assisted suicide.