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The ACT will have the most liberal euthanasia laws in Australia. (Bigstock)

Terminally ill people who lose their mental capacity would be able to access euthanasia under a nation-first proposal being weighed by the ACT Government that could pave the way for dementia patients to end their own lives. Source: The Australian. 

Labor backbencher Marisa Paterson put forward an amendment to what will be the most liberal euthanasia framework in the country if passed into law, allowing patients to appoint a “voluntary assisted dying (VAD) attorney” who has the legal power to sign off on their access to the scheme.

The bill was debated for the first time in the ACT Parliament last week, after the Barr Labor Government handed down its response to a committee report examining the bill.

Dr Paterson, who was on the committee examining the legislation, said the proposed amendment would plug a gap in the existing VAD legislation in other jurisdictions.

She said under the amendment, a patient’s VAD attorney – who holds the patient’s power of attorney – would be able to authorise their access to the scheme to end their life.

Dr Paterson said while the proposal did not specifically address dementia patients, it would “go some way to progress” the public debate surrounding the disease and VAD.

The legislation is expected to pass the ACT parliament, with the Liberals opting for a conscience vote and the Greens in support of euthanasia.

Liberal health spokeswoman Leanne Castley said she was supportive of the legislation broadly but planned to introduce an amendment to remove strict liability offences for health workers.


ACT debates fraught issue of VAD for dementia sufferers (By Rhiannon Down, The Australian)