15 April 2013
Alliance to give dying with dignity legislation its best ever chance of success
Greens MP Cate Faehrmann’s Rights of the Terminally Ill Bill will be jointly sponsored in the Lower House by Greens Member for Balmain Jamie Parker, Independent Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich and Independent Member for Lake Macquarie Greg Piper.
Today’s announcement follows recent confirmation that the bill will be debated in the Upper House in early May. If successful, the team will work together to ensure its passage through the Lower House to become law.
Independent Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich said:
“The reform is important to families across NSW. I am sure all MPs will consult respectfully with their electorates, experts, and particularly people with terminal illnesses whose pain and suffering can no longer be alleviated.”
Greens MP Cate Faehrmann said:
“This issue well and truly crosses the political divide. I'm committed to working with all MPs in the coming weeks to give this much-needed reform its best ever chance of success.”
Greens Member for Balmain Jamie Parker said:
“If we want to be a caring society, we need to do something about the fact that our current laws allow some people to suffer terribly at the end of their lives. Terminally ill adults who are suffering intolerably should have the right to an assisted death if that is their wish – this is about personal choice.”
Independent Member for Lake Macquarie Greg Piper said:
“As a mature educated society, I believe that we should be able to accept the right of a person to determine the time of their own death, when they freely and with sound mind, choose to do so on the basis that due to illness and suffering, their life affords little or no quality of life, and is no longer bearable to them. With appropriate legislative and societal checks and balances, voluntary euthanasia would respect a person’s right to self- determine this most important part of their life; it would allow a choice to die with dignity.”
Additional high res Images of the four MPs together are available on request.
Alex Greenwich 9360 3053
Provisions of the bill
The Rights of the Terminally Ill Bill would ensure that a patient who has a terminal illness and who is experiencing unacceptable pain or suffering can receive assistance to end their life if that is their wish.
This assistance would take the form of the provision of a substance that the patient would themselves administer, or, in the case of severe physical disability, be provided assistance to administer.
To receive assistance, patients must meet strict criteria. The patient would need to:
- be at least 18 years old;
- be suffering from a terminal illness that is causing severe pain or distress unacceptable to the patient;
- be fully mentally capable and able to make informed decisions;
- be a resident of NSW;
- have been fully informed of the diagnosis and prognosis of their disease and other options, including palliative care.
The process would involve a number of stringent safeguards including:
- The patient would have to be examined by two medical practitioners who would certify that the patient met the eligibility criteria.
- A psychiatrist would have to certify the patient was able to make an informed decision, and was not under any duress to make the request for assisted dying. A qualified social worker may also be consulted during this assessment.
- It would be a requirement that none of the health professionals involved (or their close associates) stood to receive any financial benefit from the patient’s death.
- There would be severe criminal penalties for coercion of the patient or any of the doctors by another party.
- The patient can change their mind at any stage of the process.
- No health professionals would be compelled to participate in an assisted dying process.
- A review process would be established to oversee the process and to ensure compliance. This body will provide an annual report to parliament.
- The drugs used in the assisted dying process will be subject to strict storage and supply rules.