Former prime minister Kevin Rudd has urged the Labor states to “hasten very slowly” on euthanasia, as the looming enactment of Western Australia's laws triggered doctors to warn more time is needed to evaluate risks. Source: The Australian.
The president of the Australian Medical Association in Queensland – the next state to explore voluntary assisted dying (VAD) legislation for the terminally ill – also said the rollout should halt for at least two years to allow the template law in Victoria to be assessed.
Mr Rudd voiced concern that ethical and moral questions, including the capacity of palliative care to control end-of-life suffering, were being “glossed over in a rush” by the states.
“If it takes a much longer period of time than some of the legislative proponents would want to achieve a reasonable consensus on these questions through parliamentary deliberation, then let’s take the time,” Mr Rudd said.
“My instinct on any life question is to hasten very slowly. These are complex bioethical questions. Nothing is more fundamental than life.”
Last week, the upper house of the WA parliament passed by 24-11 the state Labor government’s legislation for VAD. It is expected to be voted into law this week when the amended bill returns to the Legislative Assembly, prompting Premier Mark McGowan to tweet: “WA is now on the cusp of making history.”
A parliamentary committee in Queensland is investigating a VAD law, alongside palliative and aged care.
AMA Queensland head Dilip Dhupelia said there would be no way of knowing whether the safeguards in the Victorian law worked until a “meaningful” database was established, and that would take at least two years based on the state government’s estimate that only 150 patients a year would use VAD.
While the AMA remained opposed to euthanasia, it was important it be involved in the process to protect vulnerable patients and doctors who conscientiously objected to VAD.
“We need to be at the table, absolutely,” Dr Dhupelia said.
Hasten slowly on euthanasia, Rudd tells states (The Australian)