Stricken with cancer of the larynx, Ray Hardy was nursed through his final days by his loving son Kevin.
- SA parliament is due to debate its assisted dying bill on Wednesday night
- A palliative care organisation wants more funding
- Supporters of the bill rallied outside parliament on Wednesday afternoon
It was that deeply personal experience that saw Kevin dedicate his life to palliative care nursing.
More than two decades later, he is one of the leading practitioners in the palliative care sector as he delivers Calvary Hospital’s home care for the terminally ill.
“I believe dying is a natural part of life, it certainly comes in different forms for different people and cancer, chronic illness, is one of those things,” Mr Hardy said.
Mr Hardy is open about his personal view against the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill currently going through South Australia’s parliament.
It is the 17th time in 25 years the euthanasia debate has rested on the conscience vote of politicians.
Mr Hardy believes changing the law would interfere with the “dying process”.
He said he was not comfortable with the concept of society saying it was OK for someone to end their life because they were suffering, when “we’re not doing all we can do to provide people with support at that time”.
“And if we talk about suffering, there is a lot of suffering in other aspects of health — we talk about mental health issues, several neurological conditions that children and young adults have.”
Mr Hardy admitted some palliative care patients had spoken to him about euthanasia and he had always been able to say that it was against the law.
Push for more palliative care funding
Palliative Care SA does not have a stance on the euthanasia bill.
The organisation said whether the bill was successful or not, an additional amount of more than $29 million must be put into the palliative care sector every year.
Executive director Mark Water said this would have far-reaching benefits.
“This leads to less ramping, it leads to less unnecessary procedures in hospital,” he said.
“It would lead to people staying out of hospital and supported at home or in the place they’ve chosen to die.”
Just hours before the debate gets underway in parliament’s Upper House on Wednesday night, a rally was held outside.
Petrina Young felt compelled to attend after the painful death of her father Peter from cancer in November.
“It’s not peaceful and it’s not pain-free and it’s difficult because it’s sad — it’s awful seeing someone suffer that way,” she said.
If the bill passes through the Upper House, it will still need similar support in the Legislative Assembly to become law.