Yesterday, a draft bill for medical assisted dying was published for public consultation in New South Wales, Australia. The draft bill is created over the past two years by a cross-party working group of NSW MPs. The bill would legalise assisted dying.
The draft bill is set up to give terminally ill NSW residents over the age of 25 the legal right to end their lives with medical assistance. The patient also would have to be in ‘reasonable medical judgements’ and expected to die from their illness within 12 months. Also the patient has to be experiencing ‘extreme pain, suffering or physical incapacity’. Another safeguard is that two medical practitioners, including a specialist have to agree with the decision.
Also, the patient has to be assessed by an independent psychiatrist or psychologist to guarantee they are of sound mind and that the decision is made voluntarily. The age limit is chosen because of medical evidence that shows that functions of the brain related to rational decision-making aren’t fully developed before the age of 25.
There is a 48 hour cooling off period and the right for close relatives to challenge patient eligibility in the Supreme Court. Patients would then be allowed to self-administer a lethal substance to end their lives. They may also be assisted by a medical practitioner or nominated person.
Dying with Dignity NSW states that the bill has “basically the tightest eligibility criteria in the world and the most safeguarded process for making a request for assisted dying”. Nevertheless, together with the draft bill in Victoria it can be seen as an historic chance to legalise assisted dying in Australia.