10 February 2023

Temperatures set to rise in assisted dying debate

| Ross Solly
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Person dying in hospital bed

Proposed right-to-die laws are expected to spark passionate debate. Photo: Dying with Dignity.

The ACT Government needs to be careful it is not too clever by half in how it frames the discussion on its proposed assisted dying laws.

It seems to be accepted by one and all that Canberra will soon have its own rules, the seventh Australian jurisdiction to bring in its own euthanasia or assisted suicide laws. What a turn-up for the books it will be if, after waiting so long and expending so much elbow grease, Canberrans decide they don’t want to have the right to choose to die.

But some of the discussion points outlined this week look set to raise the temperature of the debate.

ACT Human Rights Minister Tara Cheyne floated the idea of a major role for nurse practitioners. The Minister also wants to discuss whether people under the age of 18 should have access to access to voluntary assisted dying.

Both of these issues are important. But they are also passionate and controversial. Introducing these topics into this debate will kick off fiery discussions and may well backfire on the ACT Government.

READ ALSO Voluntary assisted dying in the ACT: what happens now?

Already talkback callers, social media and letter writers are raising concerns about the amount of power that will be given to nurse practitioners. Yes, we are very well-served by these professional operators, but making decisions on whether people can end their lives, or even help them end their lives, is a big step.

Tara Cheyne is right. The pool of health professionals in the ACT who would be equipped to assess a person’s condition is pretty shallow. The accepted wisdom around the rest of Australia is that two health professionals are needed to independently conclude that a patient is likely to die within a certain timeframe.

The ACT Government’s discussion paper tells us that in Canada, a nurse practitioner can be one of the health professionals making that life-ending assessment, so maybe we could adopt a similar approach.

Tara Cheyne is also right that our nurse practitioners are highly trained professionals. But one might ask, is helping someone die what they signed on for? One could only imagine how stressful being part of that process would be, even for the most experienced medical professionals who every day have to tell patients they have terminal illnesses.

READ ALSO Chief Minister accused of pushing ‘personal crusade’ for highest Yes vote on Voice to Parliament

The debate about age limits will also be feisty. The rest of the country agrees a person seeking to end their life must be at least 18 years old. But Tara Cheyne signalled part of our consultation process should consider if the age limit should be 16.

We don’t even trust 16-year-olds to be able to vote. Or drive a car. Or drink alcohol. Would it be strange if we gave them the power to end their lives?

Even without these two potentially contentious issues, the ACT laws are sure to be cutting-edge.

Most other states suggest a person looking to end their life would need to have a prognosis that they would die an uncomfortable death within six to 12 months.

The ACT is considering not including a requirement for a time frame for a person’s likely death.

Talking about death is never an easy task. The next eight weeks will be difficult for a lot of people, but it’s a conversation we have to have.

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Prov 8:36

“All those who hate Me, love death…”

See the thing is, there has been a concerted push it appears by dark forces within our community, to make “compassionate” death ” a right” and “loving” etc etc, but what carefully they side step is the religious side of this. Like gay marriage etc, dumb ideas like this are a direct assault it appears on religious views and faiths, but dressed to push victimhood and make it look like death can be “benevolent” and are trying very hard to sideline religions like Christianity which have firm moral checks and balances.

In a way , its a drip-drip-drip approach to create a pagan and Godless state of play, where like God says, you will reap what you sew.

What you will reap is, eventually, death panels, where the Godless faceless govt decides who lives and who dies.

My question is this – are people really so dumb they would hand a faceless Godless govt control over their loved ones lives? People might squeal about my comment, but its where its going and people unless they are room temp IQ , deep down I think know it.

The Devil quite simply dresses up his agenda like the Bible says “as an angel of light” , but underneath it all, its pagan death cult.

Be careful what you wish for, you might get it….

We abort healthy foetuses so why not euthanise unhealthy people if they so wish.

I disagree. The ACT government is actually on the right track by expanding the criteria to access voluntary assisted dying. The problem with state legislation is that it is so restrictive that many people will fail to access, or even apply, put off by over cautious even callous rules. One point the discussion paper makes is that easier access to VAD gives peace of mind. You can pull the plug, even if you choose not to, which gives strength through suffering. So open VAD up to all who are in intolerable pain and facilitate access, remove obstacles, not create them. My body, my choice.

Somewhat amusing to hear anybody make that argument with a straight face after the last three years of government over reach.

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