'Let the people decide their fate'

March 30, 2007

On the National Day of Shame — March 26 — more than 100 supporters of voluntary euthanasia from across Australia came together at Parliament House, chanting "Not the church, not the state, let the people decide their fate". A Freedom Ride from Sydney to Canberra marked the 10th anniversary of the federal government's overturning of the Northern Territory's Rights of the Terminally Ill Act.

Organised jointly by the Voluntary Euthanasia Society and EXIT International, protesters demanded the right to choose when and how to die, peacefully and with dignity.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock, with the support of Right to Life Australia, recently reignited the debate when he overruled the independent censorship board's classification of EXIT's The Peaceful Pill Handbook, banning the book on the ground that it may instruct people in matters of crime. According to author Dr Philip Nitschke, however, providing accurate information is about harm minimisation, and that without access to accurate and concise information, desperately ill people often resort to desperate measures.

The protesters entered Parliament House to present a "Condolence Book of Messages" to those politicians brave enough to meet with them, and the Greens' Bob Brown, Lynn Allison from the Democrats and Labor's Carmen Lawrence gave speeches. The activists sang the national anthem reworked into a voluntary euthanasia anthem and began chanting. After the supporting politicians had left and the chanting grew louder, the protesters were ordered to leave by security staff.

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