Compassion and respect

VOLUNTARY ASSISTED DYING BILL 2016 moved in the Tasmanian Parliament

NEW 22 May 17 There are major differences between voluntary assisted dying and the suicides we all regard as tragic and all steps should be taken to prevent and no credible evidence of negative impacts on suicide prevention or the incidence of suicide in those places that have legal voluntary assisted dying.  Read more in our In Brief – Voluntary Assisted Dying and Suicide.  There is also an interesting official Swiss comparison of assisted suicide and suicide in that country for 2009. 

NEW 20 May 17  Comparison of safeguards with Tas VAD Bill – May 17 with minor updates and corrections

NEW 17 April 17 – Revamped Issues Paper 1, Voluntary Assisted Dying – The Basics.  We thank Resilience Marketing – Darren and Jody – for their generous donation of graphic design services, and thank Matt Barnes for his excellent work to make our Issues Papers more readable and attractive.  Others will be completed soon to contribute to an informed debate by MPs on the Tasmanian Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2016.

NEW 10 April 17 –  Comparison of Voluntary Assisted Dying Safeguards (see update above)– This detailed comparison is of key safeguards in the 2016 Tasmanian Bill with those in overseas legislation and the assisted dying framework recommended in the 2016 report of the Victorian inquiry into end of life choices.

NEW 22 March 17 New reports and resources section.

Bill moved in the Parliament

The new Tasmanian Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2016 was moved in the Parliament on 17 November.  It will be debated after Parliament resumes in March 2017.

NEW 29 November 16 – Summary of the Tasmanian VAD Bill – 29 November 2016

The co-sponsors of the Bill are Lara Giddings, former Premier and now Labor MP for Franklin, and Cassy O’Connor, Leader of the Greens and MP for Denison.  At this stage there is no Liberal co-sponsor but we are hopeful that one will join them before the debate.

The Bill can be accessed from the Parliament of Tasmania website here.  It is a long and detailed Bill with specified requirements that must be met before legal assisted dying can be provided.

A detailed summary is being done and will be added to the website soon.  In brief, if passed into law, it would allow a last resort option for some very seriously ill, competent adults, who have worked with their doctors to all make voluntary and informed choices to end intolerable and unrelievable suffering through an assisted death.

Assisted deaths can only happen when there is no reasonable chance of the person’s recovery, or any improvement in their medical condition or the relief of their suffering, as determined after a rigorous process.  It also establishes a system which is doctor-safeguarded and safeguarded through an independent Registrar with significant powers and responsibilities to monitor and review all deaths and take action, including an annual report to Parliament.

The new Bill has been based on a thorough reconsideration of the Tasmanian 2013 Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill based on criticisms at the time (eg Law Society) and developments elsewhere, particularly Victoria, SA and Canada. The requirements and processes are closest to the thoroughly considered Canadian Supreme Court judgement in Carter vs Canada and the detailed proposal of the Canadian Medical Association in its policy document, Principles-based Recommendations for a Canadian Approach to  Assisted Dying.

Last time a similar Bill was debated in Tasmania in October 2013, it was defeated at the Second Reading stage and was not debated in detail.  It was supported by 12 MPs and opposed by 13.  All 10 Liberal MPs voted against it as a bloc, even though they had a free vote.  Since the last vote, there are 2 new Labor, 5 Liberal and 2 Greens MPs. There has also been a significant shift in attitude along with an increase in evidence in favour of legislation.

As part of the DwDTas campaign for the new Bill, the first of a series of Issues Papers is being sent to all MPs.  The first one is Voluntary Assisted Dying – The Basics.

Background 

The Tasmanian Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2013 – on which the 2016 Bill is based – failed to pass by one vote following the debate on 16 and 17 October 2013 in the Tasmanian House of Assembly.  All 10 Liberal MPs and 3 of the 10 Labor MPs voted against the Bill at the Second Reading stage, preventing a full debate on the detailed provisions of the Bill.

There’s a report on the debate and vote in the February 2014 newsletter.  Hansard of the debate can be accessed from the Tasmanian Parliament website.

The Bill followed a public consultation process started on 3 February 2013 when they  issued both a long discussion paper and a shorter companion paper for public consultation. DwDTas also prepared a very brief summary.  The Bill was very similar to the detailed proposal

We are very pleased that key DwDTas recommendations were accepted as made in our submission.  The Bill  included a ‘last resort option’ for those people who have incurable and irreversible medical conditions, but whose conditions are not expected to cause their death, and who also have persistent and unrelievable suffering that they find intolerable.

We  expressed concern that the proposed waiting periods may be too long in some circumstances, for example, if a person’s condition has deteriorated quickly and their suffering has suddenly increased to become unbearable.  We  recommended inclusion in the legislation of provisions for shorter waiting periods in exceptional circumstances.  The Bill included a waiting period of at least 7 days, rather than 14 days as originally proposed, between the person’s written request for assisted dying and the subsequent oral request.  There could however be a longer wait before a prescription can be written because there is also a requirement that the second doctor’s medical report must also have been received by the person’s treating doctor.

As argued in the consultation paper, the Bill did not include access to voluntary assisted dying through an advance care directive after the person has lost competence.

DwDTas

Dying with Dignity Tasmania

P O Box 1022,
Sandy Bay,
Tas 7006,
Australia

Tel. 0450 545167

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