Just as deadly

It might have been hoped that following a consultation – or the veneer of a consultation – the draft euthanasia bill proposed by Tasmanian Independent MLC Mike Gaffney would have improved.

It might have been hoped that when the obvious dangers and lack of safeguards were pointed out, they might have been addressed.

Not so.

The second draft of the End-of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill is just as deadly as deadly as its predecessor:

  • It still allows euthanasia for those whose condition is not terminal. The eligibility requirement is only that a person has a “disease, illness, injury or medical condition” that is “serious, incurable and irreversible,” paving the way for euthanasia for those who are injured after an accident or subject to chronic diseases like arthritis to die.
  • It still doesn’t require death to be imminent for euthanasia. A small change requires death to be expected within 6 months (or 12 months for a neurodegenerative disease) for those choosing assisted suicide, but those time limits don’t apply for euthanasia.
  • A person does not need to live in Tasmania to be eligible. A person has to have either been born in Tasmania, or lived there for a continuous 12-month period at any time in their lives to be eligible, opening the door for “euthanasia tourism.”
  • Process can be as short as four days. The prescribed time between first request and second request is 48 hours, with another 48 hours between second request and final request, meaning that a person could be approved for euthanasia just 4 days after asking for it.
  • There is still no requirement that the doctors signing off on a patient’s death specialise in their condition. There are also no minimum requirements for how much medical experience a doctor needs before prescribing lethal drugs.
  • Doctors are still permitted to initiate a conversation about euthanasia with their patients.

One significant change to the bill regards the definition of ‘relevant medical condition’ in section 5. In the original draft, disability was excluded from the definition; the revised bill now allows disability to be a relevant medical condition for the purposes of eligibility under the Act.

What message is this sending to people with disabilities in our communities? 

You can have your say by emailing eolc@parliament.tas.gov.au