Euthanasia advocate Andrew Denton urges WA doctors to back laws

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This story was first published in The West Australian on Tuesday 18 September. Photo: Simon Santi

Broadcaster Andrew Denton has urged WA doctors to stand up in support of proposed euthanasia laws.

In Perth to lobby for proposed laws, Denton said support from the medical community had been crucial in getting Victorian laws passed and he hoped to see the same in WA.

“A key voice in Victoria that helped politicians decide in favour of these laws were a number of principled doctors and nurses who stepped forward and said, ‘You know what, there are patients we can’t help and we would like a law to be able to help them’,” he said.

“Many doctors hesitate to do that because it’s a conservative profession, they’re conservative by nature.

“The opportunity to genuinely pass a law like this comes along very rarely.

“Western Australia is about to have that opportunity and there will be doctors reading this who know exactly why these laws should exist.

“I hope that they step forward, I hope that they make themselves heard to their local members because their voice is important.”

Denton is a high-profile euthanasia advocate through his directorship with Go Gentle and his podcast series, Better Off Dead.

He has spoken of the experience of watching his father Kit die as a motivation to dedicate his time advocating for euthanasia laws.

Last month, a landmark parliamentary report, which was the result of a yearlong parliamentary cross-party inquiry, recommended State Parliament approve laws for voluntary assisted dying for WA adults who experience suffering related to terminal, chronic or neurodegenerative conditions.

Denton said Go Gentle hoped to be a source of evidence-based research to counteract anti-euthanasia arguments, as it was when the Victoria Government was wrestling with the same issue.

He said he would be disappointed if the WA Government did not put forward legislation.

“My sense is that they’re going to be politically pragmatic,” Denton said.

He said he was frequently stopped in the street by people who wanted to share their stories. Denton said that while he had at times “emotionally struggled”, he also regarded it as “an honour” as well as an indication of how passionate many in the community felt about the issue.

“I was at a service station the other day and two truckies grabbed me and started telling me about what happened in their family,” he said. “The death of someone you love is a very intimate thing to share and it’s a very difficult thing to talk about, so if someone wishes to share those stories I have incredible respect because I know how hard it is to do.”

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