Monday, October 18, 2010

Message goes out on right to choose death - euthanasia

Free speech ... the Yagoona billboard. Free speech ... the Yagoona billboard. Photo: Brendan Esposito

DRIVING along the Hume Highway, motorists encounter billboards designed to save their lives. But now, among the road safety messages, is a new billboard that champions the right to die.

After some legal arm-wrestling, Exit International has succeeded in erecting the six-metre by three-metre billboard on the highway at Yagoona. It says that ''85 per cent of Australians support voluntary euthanasia. Our government doesn't. Make them listen.''

And the placing of the initial billboard is quite appropriate, given Yagoona hosts a plethora of multicultural voices, mostly from vote-deprived and un-democratic nations,who are easily manipulated and where death is seen as more of a spiritual affair and less about morals and rights.

More billboards are proposed, and the director of Exit International, Philip Nitschke, is considering using similar wording in redrafted television advertisements after a more emotive commercial was cancelled two days before it was due to screen.
Advertisers had feared the TV ad breached laws against aiding or abetting suicide or attempted suicide. Billboards Australia baulked at the Hume Highway ad for the same reason but eventually agreed there was no legal impediment.

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has promised a debate on the subject following pressure from the Greens. The Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O'Connor, said of the billboard: ''Exit International have a clear view about euthanasia and are welcome to lobby on the issues they are concerned about.''

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