Victorian end of life inquiry - act now!

Update: submissions have now been extended to Monday 31 August 2015.

On 7 May 2015 Gavin Jennings MLC passed a motion that the Victorian Legal and Social Issues Committee launch an “Inquiry into End of Life Choices”. The terms of reference are:

“This house requires the legal and social issues committee to inquire into, consider and report, no later than 31 May 2016, on the need for laws in Victoria to allow citizens to make informed decisions regarding their own end-of-life choices, and in particular the committee should -

(1) Assess the practices currently being utilised within the medical community to assist a person to exercise their preferences for the way they want to manage their end-of-life, including the role of palliative care.
(2) Review the current framework of legislation, proposed legislation and other relevant reports and materials in other Australian states and territories and overseas jurisdictions, and
(3) Consider what types of legislative change may be required, including an examination of any federal laws that may impact such legislation.”

The Legal and Social Issue Committee is now calling for submissions, the closing date being Monday 31 August 2015. You can advise also if you wish to appear at a public hearing. Please write to this Committee referring to the terms of reference.

Do you know of people who have died with/without palliative care? Have you used a Medical Power of Attorney? Have you or anyone you know been presented with an “Advance Care Directive” when on entering a hospital when ill, you can sign your life away?

Some points to use in your submission:

1. We do not need any legislative change to allow assisted suicide or euthanasia. Instead we need improved and accessible palliative care for all who need it. According to Dr Rachel Carling-Jenkins MLC in a speech to the Legislative Council on 14 April 2015, less than 50% of people who want palliative care can access it.
2. We spend a lot on the prevention of suicide. We don’t want to discriminate against sick, old people by encouraging them to suicide.
3. We don’t want euthanasia as it opposes the right to life of everyone, especially the most vulnerable.
4. A licence to kill is bad public policy. It creates groups of people whose lives are deemed “not worth living.”
5. We already have financial and emotional elder abuse and this opens the door to the ultimate in elder abuse.
6. The most vulnerable people in our community may be coerced or pressured to “stop being a burden” on others or the health system. People, who do not want to die, will be killed.
7. Euthanasia undermines medical research.
8. Autonomy is important but never absolute. Assisted suicide and euthanasia affects the family and community, not just the person who suicides.
9. Euthanasia changes the public conscience.
10. Euthanasia violates medical ethics – “First do no harm.” It upends the role of the doctor as healer and carer, doing what is in the best interests of the patient, not the hospital or health budget.
11. Overseas in the Netherlands and Belgium, the slippery slope has extended euthanasia to children and those with mental health issues. Any safeguards have failed.

If you need further information, go to Paul Russell's website at http://www.noeuthanasia.org.au.

To make a submission:

You can submit it via the website at http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/lsic/inquiry/402 (You can also view submissions so far at this link, or find out how to contribute at a public hearing)

The email address for submissions: lsic@parliament.vic.gov.au (Word documents are preferred)

The address for postal submissions is:

Lilian Topic, Secretary
The Legal and Social Issues Committee
Parliament House
Spring St
Melbourne 3002.

Remember, submissions close on Monday 31 August 2015.


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