Victorian Government set to hold conscience vote on assisted dying

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Victorian Government set to hold conscience vote on assisted dying after accepting committee findings
Updated yesterday at 9:08pm


The Victorian Government has accepted a cross-party committee's recommendation to legalise assisted dying and looks set to hold a conscience vote on the issue next year.

Key points:
  • Legislation to be introduced in 2017, followed by a conscience vote
  • Cabinet wanted the contentious issue dealt with before state election in 2018
  • A request to die must be made by a mentally competent patient, with an incurable, fatal disease and must be approved by two doctors.
The Government is due to hand down its response this week to the report delivered in June from a state parliamentary committee, which recommended the legalisation of assisted dying for people suffering from incurable conditions.

The issue went to Cabinet on Monday and it is understood on Thursday the Government will announce it will introduce legislation next year based on the committee's recommendations and put that to a conscience vote.

The Government wants the issue dealt with in 2017 so it does not stretch into an election year.

The report from Parliament's Legal and Social Issues Committee report made 49 recommendations covering assisted suicide and called for amendments to the Crime Act to protect doctors.

The committee said any request to die must come from a terminally ill, mentally competent patient over the age of 18 in the final weeks or months of their life and must be approved by a primary doctor and an independent secondary doctor.

Assisted dying should involve a doctor prescribing a lethal drug, which the patient could take without further assistance, unless the person is physically unable to take the legal drug themselves, the report said.

Conscience vote in Parliament
It is uncertain how the numbers in Parliament will stack up when the issue is put to a vote.

There are a lot of MPs who have come out in favour of the idea in recent months, including Premier Daniel Andrews, who said he had changed his view on euthanasia after losing his father earlier this year.


Stories of love and personal hardship can change minds about euthanasia, writes George Williams.

He told Statewide Drive that the Government would respond to recommendations this week.

"We need to accept, all of us, that we can do much better by those who are at the end of their life in very vulnerable circumstances," Mr Andrews said.

"We are letting a lot of people down and we have got to do better than that."

However Mr Andrews' deputy, James Merlino does not support assisted dying.

Palliative care doctors this week warned against legalising euthanasia saying that it prioritises patients who choose assisted suicide at the expense of those receiving end-of-life care.

Euthanasia was briefly legalised in the Northern Territory in 1995 but federal laws passed in 1997 effectively overrode the territory's laws and prevented any territory from legislating on the issue.

South Australia has attempted to legalise voluntary euthanasia through a Private Member's Bill 15 times but it has been continually defeated.

'Bold' move applauded
Victorian Sex Party MP Fiona Patten welcomed the Government's "bold" move, saying it was the "right thing to do".

"Allowing terminally ill people the right to die when they choose with dignity, is not only compassionate but common sense," she said.

She called it a "breakthrough moment" in politics and said medically assisted dying was already happening in Victoria in a totally unregulated way.

"Doctors can provide lethal doses of painkillers if death is a secondary effect to pain treatment," she said.

"We should respect them enough to give them the choice to die surrounded with family and friends in as much comfort as possible.

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This conscience vote by a handful of politicians will determine the moral code for the whole population of Victoria.
We get no say. They are the new gods.
 

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Suicide doctor out to advance ‘militant pro-euthanasia position’
with new organization

AUSTRALIA, December 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Former Australian medical doctor and full-time promoter of “rational suicide” Philip Nitschke has thrust himself into Australia’s heated euthanasia debate with a new organization called Exit Action.

His critics say it adds nothing except perhaps new opportunities for him to market his books and DVDs.

“He is a dangerous man,” says Alex Schadenberg, head of the Ontario, Canada-based Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. “He sell his books that tell you where to buy Nembutal and other fatal drugs in China or Mexico and he doesn’t care who gets the information. ”

Schadenberg was at a conference in Australia recently where several mothers related how their children were in contact with Nitschke via his website before they committed suicide.

“He’s been very irresponsible in actually aiding and abetting people going through a terrible time to take their lives, when what they really need is help,” Schadenberg said.

Nitschke, who now lives in the Netherlands, where he operates Exit International, announced Sunday the formation of Exit Action with the goal of promoting a “militant pro-euthanasia position” to bring about legislative change.

But Nitschke’s position is not welcomed by pro-euthanasia groups in Australia, who have seen their pet bills go down to defeat in more than a dozen state legislatures during the past 20 years, according to Paul Russell of Hope: Preventing Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide Inc.

“What Nitschke wants is the perversely logical objective of their movement,” Russell told LifeSiteNews. But euthanasia advocates know “there is no popular support” for unrestricted access to euthanasia and assisted suicide for all adults, so they adopt a gradualist strategy, for now promoting “dignity in dying” for those who are terminally ill and in pain.

But Nitschke has given killing people a bad name by advocating that every adult should not only be given unquestioned access to assisted suicide and euthanasia, but should be issued a fatal dose of Nembutal, to be used whenever it seemed opportune. “Maybe if Nitschke had been here in Canada, the debate over euthanasia would have gone differently,” Schadenberg suggests.

“Exit Action,” Nitschke said Sunday, “is critical of the ‘medical model’ that sees voluntary euthanasia as a privilege given by the medical profession.” Advocacy for the medical model has consisted of lining up “the very sick to tell their stories of suffering … in the hopes politicians might take pity and change the law.”

But this hasn’t worked in Australia, Nitschke says. That is why he created Exit Action, which “believes that a peaceful death, and access to the best euthanasia drugs, is a right of all competent adults, regardless of sickness or permission from the medical profession.”

Nitschke’s position of “ration suicide” flies directly in the face of the social and medical view that suicidal people should automatically receive psychological counseling on the presumption that they are irrational because of depression or some other mental illness.

When a 45-year-old Perth man, Nigel Brayley, contacted Nitschke in 2014 about wanting to commit suicide, the doctor did not advise him to see a psychiatrist. Brayley subsequently committed suicide with Nembutal, which Nitschke’s books advise on how to buy and use. Facing charges of unprofessional conduct, Nitschke surrendered his medical licence last year.

Nitschke has admitted to killing his neighbor’s dog as a teenager by cutting its throat. “I was very young; I just didn't have the world experience to be able to make good judgments,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Russell’s organization was one of many pressing formal complaints against Nitschke. Its complaint was about his selling helium tank regulators ostensibly for beer making but actually for people seeking painless deaths.

Russell told LifeSite that for Nitschke promoting a human right to euthanasia and assisted suicide has always been connected with marketing products. Typically, Nitschke has promised Exit Action will be organizing an online “buyer’s club” to sell fatal drugs and gear. “He’s playing himself back into the debate,” Russell said. “As a marketing tool, it’s very clever.”

Mary Collier of Australia Right to Life commented, “It is not surprising that a man who started out strangling, then knifing his neighbor’s dog is now 50 years later committed to serial killing. … His relocation to Holland, a country which now proposes killing its older healthy citizens, has no doubt fueled his blood-thirsty desire.”

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