A euthanasia bill has just passed the final hurdle to become law in Western Australia. Unsurprisingly the Bill was rammed through Parliament after a special sitting was called to bring the debate to a close.
Adults in Western Australia will be eligible to access assisted suicide or euthanasia if they have a terminal illness with less than six months to live (or 12 months if they have been diagnosed with a neurodegenerative condition).
The patient must also make three requests (one in writing and two verbal) which would be reviewed by two medical practitioners.
These are the major flaws of this particular piece of legislation;
- Doctors are allowed to initiate the conversation about euthanasia. A doctor is in a unique position of trust and influence regarding a patient’s medical care. Having the power to suggest euthanasia as a ‘solution’ to a terminal illness completely undermines the doctor-patient relationship.
- The two ‘medical practitioners’ do not need to be specialists. They could be two GPs who do not have any experience in treating a patient with this particular condition. Many terminal illnesses are complex and require specialist care.
- People with mental illnesses will be put at risk. This legislation contains no requirement for a psychiatrist to be involved in the process.
- Patients can self-administer the lethal poison with no medical supervision. There are documented cases of assisted suicide going wrong – the person not dying and instead being left in agonising pain for hours or days.
This is a sad day for Western Australia. Ending the life of a vulnerable person is not loving or compassionate, it’s convenient.