The Queensland Law Reform Commission handed down its report into euthanasia and assisted suicide to the state government and has drafted a bill which will be introduced into the Queensland parliament next week.
As expected, and as has occurred in each jurisdiction around Australia, the legislation is broader and contains wider eligibility than the immediately preceding legislation.
Some points of note about the Queensland bill:
- A person is eligible for the scheme if their death is expected within twelve months (s.10).
- The person needs to be separately assessed by two doctors, neither of whom needs to have any speciality in the person’s illness or disease, but nevertheless needs to confirm that the person meets the eligibility requirements (s.82 and s.83)
- As in other jurisdictions, the person’s death certificate must be falsified to say the person died of the underlying illness or disease, rather than by way of lethal drugs or injection (s.81).
- In terms of conscientious objection, any doctor or nurse who objects to being part of the process nevertheless must refer the patient to another health professional who will facilitate the person’s death (s.16).
- Suffering is not restricted to physical pain or symptoms, but can include ‘mental suffering’ (s.10).
- The bill allows a GP or a nurse practitioner to initiate discussions about euthanasia with a patient, as long as they tell them about their treatment options, likely outcomes of that treatment and palliative care options available at the same time (s.7).
- The bill provides immunity from civil and criminal liability for doctors who act in good faith in accordance with or for the purposes of the Act (Part 10).
What is particularly concerning about this bill is the fact that a doctor without any expertise in the person’s illness or disease can discharge their obligations by advising a person about their treatment options and palliative care options, despite not having expertise in these areas.
The bill is expected to be debated in September and if passed, would likely be operational by January 2023.
Please consider contacting your local member as a matter of urgency to register your opposition to this dangerous legislation.