Voluntary dying bill progresses

By Grace Jones | posted on September 5, 2019

A BILL to legalise voluntary assisted dying is making its way through due process in the Lower House of State Parliament with members on both sides debating terminology in the document earlier this week.

The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2019, a 55-page document, was introduced to Parliament last month to potentially follow in the footsteps of Victoria’s recent legalisation of a similar act.

During the second reading of the bill on Tuesday night, Leader of the Nationals Mia Davies, who voted against a similar bill in 2010, said there needed to be more discussion on some particulars in the bill.

“The use of technology, particularly telehealth, will play a vital role in access to both voluntary assisted dying and palliative care,” she said.

“If we are to limit discussions between doctors or health care professionals and patients to face-to-face interaction, we will immediately disenfranchise regional and remote Australians.

“We must have assurances from the minister that the concerns we have raised have been addressed.”

Liberal Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Member for Nedlands Bill Marmion said the bill was the most confronting and difficult piece of legislation he had to consider in the past 11 years.

“In terms of my personal thoughts on euthanasia, or, more appropriately, voluntary assisted dying, I have always been concerned about the morality of such a path and what impact legislation to legalise it could have on our society as whole, and the meaning we place on life,” he said.

“It is clear that the people of the Nedlands electorate overwhelmingly support this bill. It is also clear that they expect me to represent their wishes in this house.”

Minister for Health Roger Cook said complete relief from suffering was not always possible without optimal palliative care.

“When suffering cannot be relieved, this bill will provide a safe and compassionate way to access voluntary assisted dying, and it will do so in way that provides a choice – a choice based on enduring consent, and a choice that, if faced with such suffering at the end of their life, the vast majority of Western Australians have indicated they want such patients to be able to consider,” he said.

Consideration of the bill in detail was suspended at 1.07am on Wednesday morning to be further debated after the Weekender’s deadline.

The Weekender will update readers of the progress of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill in the next edition.