The people of New South Wales deserve to have the same access to voluntary assisted dying (VAD) laws as Australians in other states, the Rationalist Society of Australia has told members of the state’s upper house.
With debate on the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 set to begin in the Legislative Council this week, RSA president Meredith Doig wrote to MLCs to urge them to support the passage of the Bill into law.
“The people of NSW deserve to have the same access to VAD as Australians in other states, where VAD laws have been introduced in both Labor and Coalition controlled parliaments with the overwhelming support of their citizens,” she wrote (see the letter below).
“Most NSW citizens support legalising VAD. Unsurprisingly, the main opposition to VAD is being driven by religious clerics and highly motivated religious lobby groups that represent a small proportion of the population.”
Dr Doig is urging residents of New South Wales to write to members of the Legislative Council to encourage them to support the Bill.
Also, supporters of VAD can add their name to a petition on the state parliament’s website that is collecting thousands of signatures.
Letter to members of the New South Wales Legislative Council, 18 February 2022
Re: Voluntary Assisted Dying in NSW
On behalf of the Rationalist Society of Australia (RSA) and our members and supporters throughout New South Wales, I am writing to urge you to support the proposed voluntary assisted dying (VAD) bill, as amended by the Legislative Assembly.
The RSA, which is Australia’s oldest freethought group, supports individuals’ right to die with dignity. In a humane and compassionate society, people suffering intolerably with terminal disease and illness should have the option to end their life in a dignified way, so long as it were entirely voluntary and subjected to appropriate safeguards.
The people of NSW deserve to have the same access to VAD as Australians in other states, where VAD laws have been introduced in both Labor and Coalition controlled parliaments with the overwhelming support of their citizens.
Most NSW citizens support legalising VAD. Unsurprisingly, the main opposition to VAD is being driven by religious clerics and highly motivated religious lobby groups that represent a small proportion of the population.
As was revealed in Neil Francis’ Religiosity in Australia: Personal faith according to the numbers research report, released in June 2021, conservative religious clerics are significantly out of touch with the people they claim to lead.
Francis’ report showed that the vast majority of those who identify as religious in Australia were supportive of VAD – 84% of ‘Socialisers’, 90% of ‘Notionals’ and 80% of ‘Occasionals’. Even among Australia’s most religious, the ‘Devouts’, nearly one in three (30%) were supportive of the reform.
The report also shows that 74% of Catholics said they supported VAD, while only 15% opposed. If a person who identifies as Catholic does not wish to access VAD, they would be free to choose not to. But the statistics are clear — most of the Catholic flock do wish to have the choice provided by VAD.
The time has arrived to legalise VAD in NSW. Terminally ill people should have the same rights as other Australians. Please respect the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the community and pass this law.
Dr Meredith Doig OAM FAICD
President, Rationalist Society of Australia