A review of Western Australia’s euthanasia laws has ruled out altering eligibility rules, despite the current and former premiers flagging support for access for people with dementia. Source: The West Australian.
WA Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said the review of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act, which has been operating for two years, was never intended to consider changes to eligibility.
She said the issue of informed consent was central to the original decision to exclude dementia.
Politicians and health professionals who crafted the laws believed a person who had lost mental capacity could not be considered a voluntary and informed applicant, regardless of whether they expressed their intent when they were cognitively sound.
“It is vital there are safeguards within VAD legislation to ensure that it is completely voluntary and that people requesting it can provide informed consent throughout the whole process,” she said.
“Currently, every state requires that persons seeking VAD are capable of making decisions about their medical treatment and communicate those decisions throughout the assessment process; however, the state government is closely watching clinical advancements in the treatment and understanding of dementia.”
Ms Sanderson’s stance appears to put her at odds with her party leaders.
Former premier Mark McGowan said in March that there was a “range of issues still out there — people who suffer from awful dementia, the issues around telehealth consultations — that still need to be discussed”. Premier Roger Cook flagged support for dementia to be considered a reason for euthanasia as recently as August.
More than 400,000 Australians are estimated to be living with dementia, and this number is expected to double by 2058.
Voluntary assisted dying laws: West Aussies suffering from dementia denied euthanasia after eligibility review (By Ben Harvey, The West Australian)