It has been reported that Perth GP Dr Alida Lancee is being investigated for murder after assisting a patient to die.
Dr Lancee is one of 72 people who gave moving testimonies in our eBook The Damage Done. She wrote of assisting with the peaceful death of a woman whose suffering was so immense that she had on three occasions been found attempting suicide at home by her distraught daughter.
We don’t support any doctors acting outside the law. But the problem here is not with doctors, it’s with the law. Doctors are being placed in an impossible position, being asked by patients who are dying, and who are suffering beyond medical help, for assistance to die mercifully. This shouldn’t have to happen in secret. It should be fully regulated. A compassionate society writes a law that helps patients and protects doctors in this situation. It does not leave patients to suffer and make doctors criminals.
WA Premier Colin Barnett has said, "It's very difficult if you pass laws in that area, and I think most people believe palliative care and treatment of someone in the last days is probably a matter for the family and the local doctor."
Firstly, it is not difficult to pass laws in this area; they have been legal for two decades in other jurisdictions across the world, where thorough review has consistently proven no evidence of the slippery slope or of abuse.
Secondly, in Palliative Care Australia's own words, it “cannot relieve all pain and suffering even with optimal care.” Palliative Care Australia's own statistics reveal that 4% of patients cannot have their suffering alleviated at the end of life.
Our politicians need to educate themselves. They need to look at the hard truth about how our elderly are being forced to die - and how too many of them are taking matters into their own hands, with traumatic consequences.
75% of Australians have consistently expressed support for an assisted dying law. They do not want to see people they love dying in untreatable pain. It is not good enough for our politicians to sweep this under the carpet.