The West Australian Government will press ahead with a bill to legalise voluntary assisted suicide for patients suffering from a terminal illness. Source: ABC News.
The announcement comes after a cross-party parliamentary committee recommended the move, saying the law would limit “unnecessary suffering at end of life”.
The McGowan Labor Government said an expert panel would be appointed to help draft the bill.
The panel will also consider allowing assisted suicide for patients with chronic illness and neurological conditions.
Health Minister Roger Cook said the government planned to introduce legislation into Parliament in the second half of 2019.
“The bill that will be presented to Parliament will be a conscience vote,” Mr Cook said.
“It will be up to each of the members to form a view about this very sensitive and important matter in relation to whether they agree or not with the legislation going forward.”
The committee’s recommendation would allow a doctor to administer lethal medication where a person was physically incapable of doing so, but was eligible under the proposed voluntary euthanasia model.
Under the model, death would need to be a “reasonably foreseeable” outcome of the condition suffered by the patient.
A patient would also have to have “decision-making capacity” at the time of making a choice to die, be aged over 18, ordinarily reside in WA and be assessed by two doctors.
However, the committee also recommended health practitioners not be forced to engage in voluntary euthanasia, should the practice be legalised.
The recommendations were backed by all bar one member of the committee, with Liberal MP Nick Goiran providing a dissenting minority report and describing “assisted suicide” as “a recipe for elder abuse”.
Australian Christian Lobby state director Peter Abetz urged the panel to disregard the committee’s recommendations, describing them as “basically suicide on demand”.
“Right around the world, wherever it’s been implemented, there’s been major abuses of that legislation,” he said.
The panel helping to draft the legislation will be led by former WA governor Malcolm McCusker QC, along with ten experts in the areas of aged care, medicine and law.
WA government to introduce euthanasia bill (9News.com.au)
Resist the ‘cold shadow’ of euthanasia, says Cardinal Collins (Catholic Herald)