Pressure mounting on all states and territories to endorse assisted dying

Who should have the right to choose how we die? We should, say older Australians.

Victoria’s legalisation of voluntary euthanasia should put pressure on other states to follow suit, if our polling of older Australians is anything to go by.

In the YourLifeChoices’ Friday Flash Poll: How do you feel about voluntary assisted dying?, 83 per cent of the 775 respondents said voluntary euthanasia should be legalised in all states and territories, with 14 per cent saying it should not and two per cent still unsure.

But as impressive as those numbers are, they represent a slight drop in favour of voluntary euthanasia from our last poll on the subject. In August last year, 85 per cent of our members were in favour of assisted dying, while 12 per cent were opposed and three per cent were unsure.

“I thought surely this was something that would have agreement by all. There are sufficient safeguards in place to guard against abuse. I watched a lovely aunt die the most painful, dreadful death imaginable. Her body was distorted by arthritis and it made you very sad to watch her suffer. It went on too long. I knew as soon as I saw this that I would agree wholeheartedly. No one should go through this. I believe if you were in the throes of this suffering you would beg for the relief that would relieve you of your agony. Thank you Victoria for having the intestinal fortitude to make this a reality,” wrote YourLifeChoices member Paddington.

Of those who think it shouldn’t be legalised, 26 per cent say they fear abuse of the system or their religious beliefs (24 per cent), 18 per cent fear elder abuse, 10 per cent believe it could lead to a slippery slope (10 per cent), 10 per cent are hopeful of future medical cures, six per cent have concerns about the medical profession and five per cent say we must endure life though all pain, suffering and misfortune.

“I find it highly offensive that someone’s religious belief can take away my right to die with dignity. After watching three family members in two years die (two with cancer, one from a stroke), I would not wish it on my worst enemy,” wrote Jaycee1.

More than half (56 per cent) would access voluntary euthanasia if it were made available in their state, 19 per cent would consider it and seven per cent say no now but may change their mind in future. More than one in 10 say they would absolutely not consider voluntary euthanasia and five per cent are unsure.

“I hope the rest of Australia brings in assisted euthanasia soon because no one should have to suffer a terrible death,” wrote Jackie.

Some members would prefer to see improvements in palliative care rather than legalise euthanasia.

“I would never be able to approve of legally sanctioned killing. All good intentions can be used perversely. Just give thanks you live in a country where palliative care is freely given,” wrote Oldie84.

“We don’t do palliative care well in many instances I agree, but that is not a reason to argue for euthanasia. It is an argument to improve palliative care,” wrote KSS.

A major factor when seeking euthanasia in Victoria is that the applicant must be of sound mind and have six months to live – or 12 months in the case of neurodegenerative disorders. But for those who have dementia and face a potentially drawn-out, undignified death, there is little recourse.

So, we asked whether someone who had been diagnosed with dementia, but was still of sound mind, should be able to appoint a power of attorney with specific instructions on assisted dying.

Almost seven in 10 poll respondents said yes, while 16 per cent said no, eight per cent said maybe, and six per cent were unsure.

“I believe that it is a person’s right to die when and how they want. My concern is that if a directive is put in place, will it be acted upon as the person has requested? I have heard of many instances where people already have a directive regarding being kept alive and these have been ignored by medical professionals and family members. I would hope this wouldn’t be the case with a VAD directive. I am appalled at the amount of people who are kept alive by – sometimes experimental – medications given by doctors or by the request of family members when clearly the person has nothing left. This is a far worse situation than assisting someone to die peacefully if they wish. And they are allowed to do this in the name of ‘medicine’ yet we aren’t allowed to die if we want,” wrote Chelle03.

Other members believe it should be their choice to die with dignity, regardless of their medical situation.

“Euthanasia should be available to all, and not just when pain is unbearable. I believe that we should be able to request euthanasia at any stage after we have been told by a specialist that time is limited – why wait for severe pain to set in, or have to be put into some kind of care where other people look after your daily needs? Not much of a life if you can’t look after yourself,” wrote Stoney.

“I believe in euthanasia and I think that it should be available to all who want to avail themselves of the right to end one’s suffering. I accept that there are some who oppose it on religious views, and I respect their choices. Obviously euthanasia won’t be legislated as compulsory so those who oppose it shouldn’t want to use it and shouldn’t stand in the way of those of us who wish to,” wrote Old Man.

“I also believe that any euthanasia laws should be made an election policy to enable the people to decide whether it should be allowed. I don’t know if euthanasia would be acceptable to the majority and I believe that it is for the people to decide, not politicians. As was seen in the recent election, people rejected the policies of one party even though all of the polls, betting agencies and media predicted a different result,” he added.

Do you think older Australians have the power to coerce state governments to introduce voluntary assisted dying?

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.

RELATED ARTICLES





    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    AussieTuca
    24th Jun 2019
    10:35am
    If one is religious, fine, obey one's faith if one is comfortable with it. The rest of us should be able to decide when to get on the final bus trip without interference from any one. It is MY LIFE, MY PROPERTY so I must be able to finish it or not without false moralism or false beliefs.

    I applauded when Victoria finally took a position on the subject. No one has the right to deny my my rights.
    fearlessfly
    24th Jun 2019
    10:44am
    Religious maggots have ABSOLUTELY NO SAY on this question, except for their own persons. They are NOT the guardians of anyone else in society and should keep their damned long snouts out of this discussion.
    AussieTuca
    24th Jun 2019
    11:27am
    Totally agree but they have the right NOT TO DO IT. Doing so already violates my rights. If they don't like it, shut up and be quiet.
    CountryCatkin
    24th Jun 2019
    11:57am
    AussieTuca- calling anyone a maggot really casts you into a rather unpleasant light.
    I am religious, but am sitting on the fence on this subject. For the religious, death is a ‘going home’. But to be so vehemently abusive as you are would not sit well with most people, whatever their views.
    CountryCatkin
    24th Jun 2019
    11:59am
    Sorry. I meant this crack for fearlessfly. Apologies AussieTuca.
    Rosret
    24th Jun 2019
    12:46pm
    Faith plays a huge part in many people's end of life decision. Oddly enough many of us wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for medical intervention. Yet somehow when we request to stop being helped it becomes a sin.
    I think fearlessfly is a little like me. I am over people of any creed telling me what I should believe. I know we need social morality and that is where it becomes so important that end of life is the wish of the individual not the community or family.
    fearlessfly
    24th Jun 2019
    1:03pm
    Well, CountryCatkin, "Religion" has, over the past couple of years, far outstripped the banks in perpetrating EVIL, all over the world.
    Tood
    24th Jun 2019
    1:38pm
    I agree with your comments Fearlessfly, the religious who try and impose their beliefs on someone else, especially in an important PERSONAL issue like this are maggots and should keep out of the debate as its obviously never going to apply to them.
    Anonymous
    24th Jun 2019
    4:51pm
    "Well, CountryCatkin, "Religion" has, over the past couple of years, far outstripped the banks in perpetrating EVIL, all over the world."

    Only Islam. You forget that the biggest charities in Australia are CHRISTIAN.
    Anonymous
    24th Jun 2019
    4:52pm
    @Tood. The only "maggots" here are the anti-religious bigots.
    Mrs Hedgehog
    24th Jun 2019
    12:02pm
    I agree with Aussie Tuva, it is my life and my right to die when I wish to. Get religion out of the debate, I am not religious and will be forced into being tortured because of others beliefs. Get the doctors out of the debate too, they evaluate your worth and then attempt to bleed you dry. I am over 70 so while I am still of sound mind let me go to a solicitor and make a legal document stating that my life can be ended at any time I wish regardless of my health.
    Rosret
    24th Jun 2019
    12:36pm
    I wonder how many people know the Greens policy platform.
    They want Euthanasia and Death duties. In other words - lets take - its our turn now.

    We have very good end of life procedures set in place in the other States without all the legal Mumbo Jumbo Victoria has introduced. In most cases its the family who keep patients alive at all cost not the medical profession.

    KSS is quite right. It is the Palliative care that needs improvement.
    Priscilla
    24th Jun 2019
    12:46pm
    My life, my way. Euthanasia when I have no quality of life, not necessarily because of a terminal illness. Palliative care is not funded properly and nothing takes away the terrible pain of someone with end stage cancer etc. Definitely want euthanasia when I feel I have no quality of life (regardless of age, illness etc).My family agree with my outlook but decision must be mine alone!
    Charlie
    24th Jun 2019
    1:04pm
    Terminal illness is a part of the hospital system that's already managed. It comes under the name of Pallitive Care, if my spelling is correct.

    It takes a lot of drugs to take the pain, fear and discomfort out of a situation where death from a medical condition is the only possible outcome. This is probably happening every day.

    I hesitate to say yes to assisted dying, but if faced with all of the miserable circumstances I would agree to anything that would end my suffering.
    Tood
    24th Jun 2019
    1:33pm
    The Victorian legislation is far to restrictive, the need to be terminal and within 6-12 months of death is ridiculous. People suffering from horrendous pain through arthritis or the like and are not going to die in the required time frame are left to suffer indeterminately, likewise people with dementia should have the opportunity to check out before the full onset especially when we see in countless cases the miserable and undignified life they are made to live after their brain has long checked out. My life, my choice, euthanasia should be available to all who want it, the safeguards are there, only YOU can request it, not your relatives. As for the religious, get out of this debate, not your choice, not your problem, enjoy your suffering to the end.
    gerry
    24th Jun 2019
    1:39pm
    so because of the 28% who succumb to religion I end up in a few years slitting my wrists or walking in front of a bus,at 83 I,m getting a few aches and pains so will have to reach for the razor soon b4 oldtimers sets in and I cant find it
    gerry
    24th Jun 2019
    1:39pm
    so because of the 28% who succumb to religion I end up in a few years slitting my wrists or walking in front of a bus,at 83 I,m getting a few aches and pains so will have to reach for the razor soon b4 oldtimers sets in and I cant find it
    CountryCatkin
    24th Jun 2019
    3:35pm
    We don’t succumb to any religion. We embrace it with faith and it can be any one of the word’s major creeds. But what a vitriolic, nasty lot of responses are coming through on the subject of assisted dying. It has certainly raised the blood pressure of many correspondents, almost to the point of apoplexy. Meeting some of these folk face to face would not be a pleasant experience - especially those hell bent (pardon the pun) on being as intolerant as possible. And you think that the religious folk are being divisive and unpleasant?? Wow! Look in the mirror... and count to 100.
    Farside
    24th Jun 2019
    11:56pm
    which side is intolerant CountryCatkin – those wanting the right the to assisted dying or those wanting to deny them that right? Would it be different if assistance was not required and one could go to a pharmacy and purchase a go pack for the big sleep?
    robmur
    24th Jun 2019
    4:41pm
    My wife, 12 years ago was diagnosed with very aggressive breast cancer, meaning her life expectancy would be short despite treatment. That would have then qualified her for euthanasia at that time. Just as well it wasn't an option as twelve years later she is still in the land of the living and doing quite well, thank you.
    Farside
    25th Jun 2019
    12:02am
    qualifying for euthanasia is not the same as choosing it Robmur. The point is your wife is the one in the best position to judge whether it not being an option 12 years ago is a good or bad thing for her, not you or anyone else. It's good that with benefit of hindsight she is pleased to be in the land of the living and doing well, if euthanasia had been available and her choice to pursue it then you will never know.
    robmur
    24th Jun 2019
    4:41pm
    My wife, 12 years ago was diagnosed with very aggressive breast cancer, meaning her life expectancy would be short despite treatment. That would have then qualified her for euthanasia at that time. Just as well it wasn't an option as twelve years later she is still in the land of the living and doing quite well, thank you.
    Tood
    25th Jun 2019
    7:45pm
    Oh come on where is your brain? You obviously have no idea. Do you really think that when diagnosed with a terminal condition one day you opt for euthanasia the next day! Of course not, you wait to see how the condition progresses and only when it is gets to the point where life is unbearable THEN you opt to check out.
    panos
    24th Jun 2019
    8:52pm
    Your put in a nursing home, it's green dream time. That's it no if or but's.

    Think of the money that would be saved for the pensioners that can still get around.

    Edward G Robinson had the right idea in Soylent Green an uplifting film clip and a needle.......Perfect.
    PlanB
    26th Jun 2019
    9:44am
    I have not read all the posts here -- I watched the program on the assisted dying and IMO it was a hell of a long time to have to wait (about 2 weeks) ALSO one Pharmacist, that makes it up --AND the patient had to take the meds themselves -- obviously they have not seen someone REALLY suffering and leaping off the bed and SCREAMING in pain unable to do anything for themselves, as my Husband was, there was NO way he could have taken it himself or waited all that time.

    WHY can't there be an injection given as they do for a beloved Animal that takes seconds and is peaceful and quick.

    IMO there needs to be a hell of a lot looked into -- by someone that knows and has witnessed such as this, to make this more humane
    PlanB
    26th Jun 2019
    9:48am
    I also plead with all -- not to -- walk in front of a bus -- or the like -- just think of the suffering and guilt that the driver would go through please do not involve others this way
    Farside
    29th Jun 2019
    3:30am
    As you say walking in front of a bus or the like is not the answer. Making a problem for someone else to deal with is sufficient reason why assisted dying options like a serenity pill or drink should be a more easily accessed choice for all when the time comes, not just those wracked with pain and imminent death sooner rather than later.


    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles