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Andrew Denton's Heartfelt Plea To Legalise Euthanasia In SA

It's been almost 20 years since Andrew Denton watched his father writhing and buckling in pain as he slipped towards death.

Kit Denton's life ended with three pain-wracked days in a hospital bed and doctors were powerless to ease his suffering.

His TV producer and comedian son cannot forget those scenes. And he certainly can't forgive the fact that other Australians are still dying in pain, with nowhere to turn for help.

Denton flew into Adelaide on Tuesday for a debate he desperately hopes will be a turning point for South Australia, and hopefully, the nation, when it comes to the vexed issue of voluntary euthanasia.

Later this week, the South Australian parliament will vote on a bill to give terminally ill people medical help to die. It's the state's 14th attempt to pass such laws.

And if they finally get up - after what's sure to be a long committee process to get them right - SA will be the only state in the nation to allow voluntary euthanasia.

Denton says anyone who's ever watched a sick loved one die in the manner his father did would never argue against voluntary, medically-assisted deaths.

After Kit had died in agony, Denton launched Go Gently Australia, an advocacy group designed to spark a national debate about why good people have to die bad deaths in Australia.

Denton uses social media to pose a pretty confronting question: "Why should a competent adult who is dying and suffering - and who asks to die quickly - be told they have to die slowly instead?"

The SA bill - introduced jointly by Labor MP Steph Key and Liberal MP Duncan McFetridge - has taken a deliberately narrow focus to give it the best chance of succeeding in this week's conscience vote.

Only mentally competent adults with terminal illnesses will be able to request voluntary euthanasia.

The suffering of the person has to be intolerable.

There should be no "reasonably available" medical treatments, or pain relief measures left.

And finally - in crucial amendments announced this week - people cannot request help to die solely on the basis of disability, their age, or their mental health.

Denton hopes the cautious approach will finally convince SA MPs to send the bill to a parliamentary committee, where it can be assessed and refined.

"The vote on Thursday is just getting access to base camp on Everest, in legislative terms," he tells AAP.

But you can't climb the mountain without setting off on the path.

Denton says he's not sure the bill, as it stands, would have helped his father, who ultimately died of heart failure after years of compounding health problems.

"But what I do know is that this law will help a lot of people who currently have no help at all," he said.


Source / Main Image: AAP

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