Monday, March 18, 2013

Tasmanian Euthanasia bill will likely die.

A recent article that was written by David Killick and published on March 16, 2013 in the Tasmanian newspaper - The Mercury under the title: Euthansia bid looks terminal
The article states:
THE chances euthanasia could be legal in Tasmania by December appear slim, with the numbers in State Parliament likely to be against the fresh push for right-to-die laws.
Premier Lara Giddings and Greens leader Nick McKim claim widespread public support for their joint private members Bill on the issue -- but there is strong opposition from the medical profession and the Catholic Church.
And with at least two Government Lower House MPs expected to vote against legalising euthanasia, the push is expected to fall at the first hurdle.
The Mercury understands Michael Polley and Brian Wightman will not to support the Bill, pointing to a 12-12 vote in the Lower House and defeat before the proposal can be considered by the Legislative Council.
Submissions on the state's proposed Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation closed yesterday and more than 150 responses were received -- mostly in favour -- a Government spokesman said. ...
A state parliament committee considered voluntary euthanasia in 1998 but concluded that sufficient safeguards could not be guaranteed.
Mr McKim tabled a Dying with Dignity Bill in 2009, but after being considered by a committee, the Bill was defeated 15 votes to seven.
Under the Giddings-McKim model, a terminally ill person wishing to end their own life must be mentally competent and make the request of their own volition.
The discussion paper on the legislation proposes that there must be no reasonable alternative to improve the patient's condition and relieve their suffering. It proposes that "voluntary assisted dying" be available only to people aged over 18 who are residents of Tasmania.
A patient would need to make a request of their doctor and complete a formal written request which would be signed by by two independent witnesses and two doctors.
There would be a 14-day "cooling off period" and the opportunity to rescind their request at any time before the lethal dose of medication could be prescribed and administered by the patient or by their doctor.
Dying with Dignity Tasmania has strongly supported the proposed Bill, saying experience overseas showed voluntary assisted dying could be implemented with due regard for the rights of patients.
"There has now been intense scrutiny of experience of legislation elsewhere for many years and that has resulted in overwhelming evidence that doctors are implementing the legislation carefully and responsibly," the group's submission says.
"There is every reason to assume that Tasmanian doctors will behave as responsibly and compassionately."
But Dr John Davis from the Australian Medical Association said the proposal was "completely unacceptable" and opposed by the AMA.
"What euthanasia does is fundamentally change the relationship between the doctor and the patient. Doctors care for patients, doctors do not kill patients," Dr Davis said.
Dr Paul Dunne is a palliative care physician who has cared for more than 5000 people over his career, and is a spokesman for REALdignitytas. He too opposes the proposal.
"I do not agree that we need to enact legislation to allow doctors to be involved in killing their patients," Dr Dunne said.
"I would agree that society and medicine is in transition and there are issues where patients have pain and distress not adequately managed by their doctors. But I believe the answer lies not in facilitating death, but in increasing communication about end-of-life issues and fostering better education and skills of our medical practitioners."
Civil Liberties Australia's Tasmanian spokesman Richard Griggs said his group had written to every state MP urging their support for the Giddings-McKim Bill.
"No government should force a person of sound mind but frail body to live in prolonged suffering against their wishes," Mr Griggs said.
TasCOSS has also backed the Bill.
Premier Giddings said she was looking forward to the debate on the Bill.
"I have been particularly touched by the personal stories of those who have watched loved ones suffer from terminal illness, as well as the fierce independence articulated by those who want to see a change in the law that will allow them to choose the timing of their death when faced with terminal illness," she said.
Mr McKim said he was confident that the Bill had a realistic chance of success.
"This lobbying has scared politicians in the past, but I am confident that then we can be successful in securing a safe and regulated system," he said.
The Bill is expected to come before Parliament in its spring session.
Link to the website for the group REALdignitytas.
Link to the website for the group HOPE Australia.

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