WA politicians claiming euthanasia bill has nothing to do with euthanasia

Health Minister Roger Cook MLA stated in his second reading speech for the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2019 that the bill “has nothing to do with euthanasia”.

The Glossary of Terms in the Report of the Joint Select Committee on End of Life Choices defines ‘euthanasia’ as:

 “the intentional termination of the life of a person, by another person, in order to relieve the first person’s suffering.” (p.20) 

The terms euthanasia and assisted suicide are defined by the European Association for Palliative Care as follows:

  • Euthanasia is “a physician (or other person) intentionally killing a person by the administration of drugs, at that person’s voluntary and competent request.”
  • (Physician) assisted suicide is “a physician intentionally helping person to terminate his or her life by providing drugs for self-administration, at that person’s voluntary and competent request.”

The WA Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2019 allows both euthanasia and assisted suicide (and refers to both practices collectively as ‘voluntary assisted dying’).

Section 55 provides that a patient may choose either to self-administer the voluntary assisted dying substance, or to have the substance administered by the practitioner.

Legislation that allows a person to take a lethal substance to end their own life, or allows a doctor to administer a lethal substance so as to end the person’s life is legislation that allows those practices and has everything to do with euthanasia and assisted suicide. 

Calling it a different name doesn’t change the substance of what is being proposed.