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DWD Tasmania publishes special Newsletter

DWD Tasmania published a special Newsletter about the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2013, that was tabled in the Tasmanian House of Assembly on 26 September and is likely to be debated on 15 October.

Following a public consultation earlier this year, the Labor Premier of the Australian state of Tasmania and the leader of the Greens Party have finally introduced a private member’s bill to legalise both assisted suicide and euthanasia. Premier Lara Giddings is determined to leave “assisted dying” as a legacy to her state before next year’s election  – which she is expected to lose.

She says on her website: “Who are we to say to an independent, competent adult that has voluntarily, persistently and consistently made a request for assistance to end their life that they must continue to live with pain and suffering, rather than allowing than allowing them to end their life at the time of their choosing?” The word “euthanasia” is nowhere mentioned in the proposed legislation or in an accompanying memorandum.

However, if the bill passes, Tasmania will become only the fourth jurisdiction in the world to authorise doctors to prescribe lethal medications.

The bill provides the following safeguards, amongst others:

  • two doctors must confirm that the request is competent and reasonable
  • the patient must make an oral request, wait three days, then make a written request, wait seven days, and then confirm again before taking a lethal prescription.
  • a second doctor must agree that person is suffering intolerably from an incurable condition, and there are no alternative treatments.
  • the patient can rescind his request at any stage.
  • no health care provider is obliged to provide assistance to die (although they are obliged to inform the patient of their options).
  • the patient must be “terminally ill”. Psychological illness does not make a person eligible.
  • to discourage “death tourism”, only Tasmanian residents will be eligible, although residence is loosely defined and could be as short as one month.