A multi-party Senate, legal and constitutional affairs committee is expected to report on Greens Senator Richard Di Natale’s proposed Dying with Dignity bill in Parliament later today.
The voluntary euthanasia debate is one in which Australians have made their opinion clear, with around 82.5 per cent of the public stating that they would like to see laws which make it possible for a doctor to assist terminally ill patients to die. Yet despite public opinion being in favour of voluntary euthanasia, the subject still remains one of the great unresolved ethical questions in our community.
In Australia, it is legal for doctors to use potentially lethal doses of drugs at the end of life, so long as their primary intention is to relieve a patient’s suffering. But Australian law still considers it illegal for a doctor to assist in the death of patient, even when death is the only alternative to relieve a patient’s suffering.
Senator Di Natale's draft bill proposes that adults who are suffering intolerably from a terminal illness, and who are mentally competent should be able to request voluntary euthanasia, so long as two doctors agree that the patient’s illness is terminal and a psychiatrist also rules they are not suffering from treatable depression.
Whatever the outcome, many eyes will be on Parliament today awaiting a decision which could affect the lives, and end of lives, of many Australians.
Read more on TheAge.com.au
Along with the overwhelming majority of Australians, I too would like to have the option to spend my final days without pain and suffering – and giving us this right is long overdue.
The voluntary euthanasia debate is not a new one to Australians. In fact, it’s almost getting old. Dying is often associated with excruciating suffering which can get even worse as a patient draws closer to death. A doctor’s job is to relieve the suffering of their patients, so it’s time the Government allowed them to do their jobs without antiquated law getting in their way.
According to a 2012 Newspoll survey, eight out of 10 Australians believe in voluntary euthanasia, including three out of four Catholics, four out of five Anglicans and nine out of 10 Australians with no religion; so the faith based argument may seem irrelevant nowadays. What is stopping those up on high from seeing that we, the public, want the option of controlling our own destiny when it comes to ending our time painlessly? Even putting the issue of suffering aside, the costs of keeping people alive against their will should be reason enough, especially for the current Government, to pass this bill quickly – and painlessly.
There may be small concerns raised, but other nations have shown that it is possible for a law such as this to pass as long as there are adequate safeguards put in place.
It is obviously in the public interest to pass a law which permits medical practitioners the ability to allow their patient a peaceful death. If the Government doesn’t take action, there may be more ‘rogue’ doctors, such as Dr Nitschke, offering black market alternatives to what should be regulated medical practice.
There should be no debate. The Australian people should have the right to choose how – and when they die – painlessly and with dignity.
Do you think this law should be passed? Would you like to option of ending your suffering on your own terms, or do you think nature should be able to take its course?
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