In WA today

WA’s euthanasia debate so far …

26 October 2018: The Kissane Commentary on the End of Life Choices’ Report

David Kissane is Professor of Psychiatry at Monash University and Professor of Palliative Care Research at Notre Dame University. His critique points to the many challenges that still lie before legislators, and would need to be addressed before they could safely legislate for “Voluntary Assisted Dying”. The leadership in this debate needs to come from the palliative care physicians, as they work daily in this space and understand best of all the complexity of the issues and the limitations of the proposed solutions.

23 Aug 2018: The Joint Select Committee of End of Life Choices tabled its Report

This was a 12 month project of much effort and many hours. The Committee is to be commended on examining end of life decision-making instruments (such as Advanced Health Care Directives) and the parlous condition of Palliative Care services in Western Australia. Given that WA has the lowest number of publicly-funded palliative care beds per capita in the country, it is no wonder that there were many bad death accounts given at the Committee’s hearings. However, rather than focusing on how best to fix the patchy delivery of Palliative Care, the Committee chose to recommend “Voluntary Assisted Dying”. This was on the strength of a minority 35% of submissions that supported this. Find out what the majority of submissions had to say about changing WA Law.

For a quicker read, here are 10 Things to Know about the Committee’s Report.

  1. Death does not need to be imminent
  2. A patient does not need to be suffering from a terminal illness to access euthanasia
  3. Physical symptoms are unnecessary, with “existential suffering” deemed sufficient for euthanasia
  4. WA has the lowest number of publicly-funded palliative care beds per capita in the country
  5. WA has the lowest uptake of Advance Care Planning in the country
  6. Doctors lack appropriate education in palliative sedation, a process that could assist that small percentage of patients for whom palliative care is not suitable
  7. The Committee could not find reliable information about palliative care spending in WA
  8. The Committee provides no analysis of how legalised euthanasia might affect dementia patients, despite it being the second-leading cause of death in the country
  9. The Committee fails to address concerns about the expansion of euthanasia regimes overseas
  10. The Committee fails to address the issue of suicide contagion in places where assisted suicide is legal.

23 August 2017: A Joint Select Committee to examine End of Life Choices was convened

Members from the Western Australian Parliament’s Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council were tasked to inquire and report on the need for laws in Western Australia to allow citizens to make informed choices regarding their own end of life choices. The Inquiry received nearly 700 submissions, many of which are posted on the WA Parliament’s website.