Go Gentle Australia has welcomed the WA State Government's positive steps to help end dying patients' suffering via a Bill to legalise voluntary assisted dying.
Go Gentle Australia founder and director, Andrew Denton, said the appointment of an expert panel to guide the development of the Bill, chaired by former Governor and eminent QC, Malcolm McCusker, was a sensible move to ensure a compassionate law with strong safeguards.
“The panel, which includes representatives from the Australian Medical Association, palliative and aged care and WA’s disability communities, brings together the necessary experience to write a law so keenly sought by a majority of Western Australians,” Mr Denton said.
“Yesterday’s announcement is in response to a comprehensive parliamentary inquiry into End-of-Life Choices. Like the Victorian inquiry before it, which led to a voluntary assisted dying law in that state, it cast light on the inadequacy of our current laws dealing with end-of-life. Repeated testimonies of people suffering needlessly as they die while their loved ones watch helplessly on have prompted the government to act.
“Go Gentle Australia fully supports the renewed focus this issue brings on palliative care and the resources needed in that area, however, it is clear that there are some circumstances where palliative care simply is not enough.
“Voluntary assisted dying is not about a philosophical ‘right to die’. It is about a legal right to ask for help if you are dying and suffering in a manner which can no longer be tolerably treated.
“If passed, it will be a law which will give people who are dying a choice about how hard their dying needs to be. A law which is about giving a dying person, and only them, the power to decide when they have suffered enough.
“It will be important to ensure that safeguards are built into the system to provide protections and support for everyone involved in the process, including patients, doctors and families.
“Go Gentle Australia looks forward to a respectful and evidence-based approach to the development of this Bill and commends the State Government for its actions to date.”
FACT FILE: Voluntary assisted dying is when a dying person voluntarily self-administers lethal medicine, legally prescribed, in order to end their suffering.
Euthanasia is when a doctor legally administers a lethal injection, at the dying person’s request, in order to end their suffering.
For more information on voluntary assisted dying, go to The Facts