“The house moves that voluntary euthanasia should be legalised” was the motion for a debate hosted by the University of Tasmanian (UTAS) Launceston Engagement and Development Office and Alumni in Launceston on 4th August 2011.
As part of the 2011 Jury’s Out Debating Series the ‘euthanasia debate’ attracted a capacity crowd of 160, with many people being turned away at the doors.
Speakers for the motion were Neil Francis, CEO of YourLastRight.com, the peak body for aid-in-dying law reform in Australia; Dr Philip Nitschke, director of Exit International; and Nica Cordover, an advocate for legislative change in voluntary euthanasia law reform since her husband suffered with motor neurone disease.
Speakers against the motion were executive officer for NSW Right to Life, Paul Russell; local GP and former MHA Dr Frank Madill; and Betty Roberts OAM, Social Issues Convenor for the Catholic Women’s League Australia Inc.
The debate was chaired by UTAS senior lecturer Dr Polly McGee, who kept a tight rein on the debaters.
Full profiles of all participants can be found at http://www.utasalumni.org.au/NetCommunity/Page.aspx?pid=212&cid=1&ceid=118&cerid=0&cdt=4%2f08%2f2011
Dr Nitschke praised UTAS for holding the debate series, which he said could make a “very important” contribution to society. “It is very wise of UTAS to offer such events so both sides of the argument can be presented. A forum like this gives people in the audience – perhaps those who are already convinced of a certain belief – the chance to check those beliefs against people of the opposing view.” Dr Nitschke said.
The debate was by turns frank, funny, formal and ferocious, and was followed by a range of comments from the audience both in support of, and against, the motion.
However, when Dr McGee called for the final vote, Dr Nitschke’s team emerged triumphant and the motion was carried.
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16 August, 2011