WA News Letters Push for assisted dying bill
Push for assisted dying bill
Written by Dr Alida Lancee
Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Dear Editor,

Despite advances in medical care, many people still face a protracted and miserable dying experience. Palliative care experts agree that despite their efforts, a small percentage of terminally ill patients continue to suffer from poorly controlled symptoms.

The current law fails those patients in regard to end-of-life care choices.

Anonymous surveys indicate that 25% of Australian doctors who provide end-of-life care have provided potentially life shortening treatments to end their patients suffering. They could face a murder charge. The legality is dependent on the unquantifiable intent of the doctor to relieve suffering or hasten the person’s death.

Some tiptoe around the law and call their care ‘Terminal Sedation’. This is a form of slow assisted dying.

Late 2016, Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal concluded that Dr Rodney Syme’s prescription of Nembutal was good palliative care by reducing a patient’s fear of having to endure intolerable suffering whilst dying.

An assisted dying law would provide clarity, transparency, universal availability and, above all, autonomy over end-of-life care choices for the dying.

The majority of doctors support such a law as do over 80% of the general population.

The WA Government has started a Parliamentary Inquiry for an Assisted Dying Bill based on the Oregon model, which has been in effect for over 20 years with none of the problems often feared by opponents.

Doctors for Assisted Dying Choice will provide medical input to ensure this Bill will be workable with appropriate safeguards. As doctors, we can stand up for those who cannot, the dying.

To show support and remain up to date please join the group at http://drs4assisteddyingchoice.org/

Excellent balanced information is summarised in the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into End-of-Life care Choices on https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/lsic/inquiry/402

Dr Alida Lancee, Western Australian Convenor, Doctors for Assisted Dying Choice