On 20 September, the NSW Opposition Leader, Luke Foley, tweeted the following “Personally, I will vote against. I oppose the state sanctioning the taking of human life. Opposed to capital punishment & euthanasia”. Apparently, Foley’s comment was retweeted by several senior Catholic figures, including the Bishop of Broken Bay, Peter Comensoli, a leading critic of the push for voluntary assisted dying laws.
Paul Gabrielides, husband of Annie Gabrielides, who is suffering with Motor Neuron Disease, told Fairfax Media: “I took offence to what Luke said. He likened it to state sanctioned killing. That’s offensive”.
On 22 September, Paul Gabrielides responded to Mr Foley’s tweet with a picture of a tattoo on Annie’s wrist which reads “be brave” and the following message “Luke. This a Tattoo on my wife’s wrist, urging her to Be Brave in facing her Death. #BeBrave Luke and meet with her to discuss #HERCHOICE !”
A spokesman for Mr Foley, who is on leave this week, said he was “uncontactable”, but that a request for a meeting with Mrs Gabrielides had been received by his office and will be considered on Mr Foley’s return. The Gabrielides are meeting with Premier Gladys Berejiklian next month to discuss her opposition to the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill (2017).
On 27 September, Annie released an update to her Change.org petition to let people know about Mr Foley’s comments. which included the following:
“This Bill would allow terminally ill people, like me, access to a dignified death at the end of my excruciating battle with Motor Neurone Disease. But Foley has likened this choice to ‘state sanctioned killing’. That comment is not only inflammatory, completely disrespectful of the immeasurable suffering and fear faced by patients at the end of their lives, but most importantly, it is void of Love and Compassion. The love and compassion that it takes to allow me to live the rest of my life free of fear and anxiety.
It feels like I’m fighting a never ending battle. I cannot eat, breathe or move without professional assistance anymore. I need people like you now more than ever to get in touch with politicians like Mr Foley, and assure him his view is out of step with the wider public.
Please write to Mr Foley asking him to meet with me and my husband Paul so we can explain what this Bill means to us — email: [email protected] or post: Parliament House, 6 Macquarie St, Sydney, NSW 2000.”
Click for Sydney Morning Herald article 26 September 2017 ‘Luke Foley assisted dying comments branded offensive’
Click for Letters to the Editor of Sydney Morning Herald 27 September 2017 – Letters in response to SMH article