Dying with Dignity

Law reform on the issue of assisted dying is necessary. I support the right of people to choose the time of their death when they are in the final stages of terminal disease, their treatment options have been exhausted and palliative care no longer affords them reasonable relief.

With appropriate checks and balances, voluntary euthanasia would respect a person’s right to self-determine this most important part of their life. It would allow a choice to die with dignity.

The prolonging of pain, suffering and distress, for both the terminally ill and their families, is not necessary. The fundamental principle behind the call for legislating to allow for assisted dying is to provide dignity to people who wish to pass peacefully and on their own terms.

Reliable polling has shown rising support in the community for voluntary euthanasia over the past few decades, with the most recent surveys indicating that more than 80 per cent of people agree with law reform to allow voluntary euthanasia. The Parliament, however, has not seriously looked at changing legislation to allow it. In some cases, I believe that certain religious beliefs among some parliamentary leaders has prevented much-needed law reform in this area. It is inappropriate, in my opinion, for one’s religious beliefs to play such an integral and significant role in the lives of others.

In 2013 I agreed to co-sponsor the Rights of The Terminally Ill Bill which was introduced into the NSW Upper House by Greens MLC Cate Faehrmann. The Bill advocated a responsible and compassionate approach to voluntary euthanasia with safeguards to ensure the wishes of a dying patient were properly understood and observed.

Unfortunately the Bill was defeated in the Legislative Council and not debated in the Lower House, but I continue to support groups such as Dying With Dignity to have a similar Bill introduced to the current Parliament.

A new Bill, produced by a Parliamentary working group, will likely be introduced to State Parliament before the end of 2017. I would certainly support the legislation provided it included the appropriate safeguards, checks and balances.