On March 5, the End of Life Choices Bill passed Tasmania’s House of Assembly in third reading. The bill already passed the second reading in the House of Assembly in December. Now, the bill needs a second formal approval from the upper house before it can become law.
Experts Review on the bill
Before the bill could be having its final vote, a review of the bill had to be received from a panel of University of Tasmania experts. The review, publicly released at February 22, was not aimed at determining whether the laws should pass, but compared what was proposed in Tasmania with what was already operational in other states and overseas. The expert panel has endorsed the bill in Tasmania as having among the “most rigorous” safeguards in the world.
The panel also made five suggested amendments:
- Replace the fifth and final eligibility assessment with a consent check
- Clarify what was expected of facilities like religious aged care homes that did not want to participate in allowing access to VAD
- Provide legislative protections against professional discrimination for health practitioners
- Allow health practitioners to choose whether they were listed on a register
- Make it obligatory for health practitioners who do not want to provide VAD to refer patients to someone who will
The use of telehealth for VAD consultations has been maintained in the Bill and an amendment that would have allowed hospitals and aged-care centres to refuse VAD on their premises, was defeated.
Because the lower house has amended the bill, it will need another formal approval from the upper house before it can be passed into law, which is expected later this month.