WA euthanasia recommendations even more extreme than Victoria's

 The Government of Western Australia is looking to introduce laws more liberal than Victoria's euthanasia laws. An expert panel in its recent report recommended that patients should be eligible if they are likely to die within 12 months. This differs from Victoria where terminally ill people must have less than 6 months to live.

An expert panel, chaired by former governer Malcolm McCusker, recommended nurse practitioners be able to complete the second assessment for patients to have euthanasia. This differs from Victoria again, where eligibility for euthanasia can only be approved by 2 doctors.

Patients with Alzheimer's or dementia would be excluded under the panel's recommendations.

Differences between Victoria and Western Australia

Victoria
  • Eligible if given an assessment of having no more than 6 months to live, or 12 months with a neurodegenerative diagnosis
  • Assessment of patient's eligibility can only be made by 2 doctors
  • Only patients are permitted to begin the conversation of voluntary assisted dying
  • A patient must be a resident for at least 12 months to make a request for euthanasia
Western Australia
  • Eligible if likely to die within 12 months
  • Second assessment of patient's eligibility can be made by a nurse practitioner
  • Doctors will be allowed to raise the subject of euthanasia with their patients
  • Euthanasia will be available to those who have lived in WA for less than 12 months, if approved by the State Administrative Tribunal. The panel cited WA's large fly in fly out population as the justification for this recommendation.

Peter Abetz from the Australian Christian Lobby said WA's proposed laws had fewer safeguards than the legislation introduced in Victoria last week.

"That is of real concern, because we don't know how the Victorian safeguards will actually work out in practise," he said.

"But what we do know is that in every jurisdiction that has gone down the path of physician-assisted suicide, there have been wrongful deaths."

Meanwhile, Australian Medical Association WA president Omar Khorshid said he was disappointed in the report's recommendations.

"It has recommended a regime for WA that is not as safe as the regime that's just started in Victoria only a week ago," Dr Khorshid said.

"And in fact some of the safeguards that have been recommended in Victoria have been rejected by the panel, despite the fact that there's been less than a week to in fact learn from those safeguards.

"There is no justification for slipping down the slope into a bad regime that is in fact dangerous."

Dr Khorshid said there were some stark differences between the Victorian legislation and the panel's recommendations for WA.

"The one that I think will have the most impact is the fact that any two doctors, or in fact just a doctor and a nurse, can take a patient through this pathway without having to seek any form of approval," he said.

Dr Khorshid also took issue with the broad timeframe within which a patient can be eligible to be considered for voluntary euthanasia.

"The longer the period, the more difficult it is to be sure," he said.

"And there's no doubt that by picking 12 months instead of six months like Victoria, that it's going to be harder for doctors to be sure, and it's going to really broaden the number of people that are potentially eligible for voluntary assisted dying."

Sources:

Read the final report from the Western Australian Ministerial Expert Panel on Voluntary Assisted Dying


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