McGowan seeks to strip euthanasia safeguards less than two years on

It’s been less than two years since Western Australia's euthanasia and assisted laws came into force, and already Premier Mark McGowan has begun a push to remove so-called safeguards.

In recent comments, the Premier gave his support to expanding euthanasia and assisted suicide access to dementia sufferers and also expressed his support for telehealth to play a larger role in the delivery of health services in Western Australia. 

“Certainly if the Commonwealth agreed… my view would be that (broadening access to telehealth for VAD) would be acceptable,” Mr McGowan said.

“I think there’s a range of issues still out there — people who suffer from awful dementia, the issues around telehealth consultations — that still need to be discussed. “I expect they will be over [the] coming years.” 

McGowan was asked specifically if he was in favour of extending euthanasia laws to dementia and Alzheimer's patients, saying it was a “good thing” to discuss.

Asked whether he was in favour of WA amending its laws to extend VAD to dementia and Alzheimer sufferers, Mr McGowan said it was an “issue” and there was already a “national conversation going on about it”.

“And I think that’s a good thing, there should be a national conversation about these issues,” the Premier added.

This is exactly what HOPE and other advocates for life, warned about. The so-called ‘strict’ safeguards contained in legislation were only ever a Trojan horse, included in order to help pass the legislation. Now, less than two years on, they are being stripped away.  

McGowan has justified this new development by arguing that: 

“They’re the sorts of things that… a lot of people raise with me. A lot of people raise it with me, they had a mother or father suffer from dementia, suffer from Alzheimer’s or in a bed basically for years unable to speak, unable to communicate, unable to go to the toilet.”

“And they just say I don’t want to end up like that.”

Making the comments even more egregious is that McGowan has made them while facing heavy criticism for WA’s problem plagued health system. There are now calls from the nurses federation for a royal commission, with McGowan’s government dragging their feet on critical recommendations yet to be implemented after the inquiry into Aishwarya Aswath’s death more than two years ago.  

The Western Australian government should be focused on keeping people alive by fixing the healthcare system, rather than looking for new ways to kill them.