Portfolios - Dying with Dignity

The Greens Position:

The Greens (WA) seek to save and preserve life, but we do not believe in forcing people to prolong their lives under conditions of suffering at the end-point of life. When people have a terminal illness and are suffering to such an extent that they no longer wish to have their lives prolonged, they should be able to seek a peaceful death under medical supervision with their families in attendance or, ask consenting medical practitioners to help them end their lives. This is about dignity and essentially, compassion.

Principles:

The Greens (WA) believe:

  • People diagnosed with a terminal illness should be able to die with dignity.
  • Adults should be able to choose their own care and treatment for a terminal illness.
  • Hospitals and doctors should be able to support people in their choice of treatments without compunction.

Dying with Dignity and Western Australia:

The Greens are committed to end of life choices legislation, and there is significant public support for it, so we hope to see changes to WA law to allow for choice as those with a terminal illness reach the end of their life. Voluntary Assisted Dying is about compassion and choice, with 84% overall support in WA, we are hopeful we will see compassion prevail.

For Greens MP Robin Chapple, this persistent endeavour followed a personal experience whereby he was confronted by the extraordinary pain experienced by his mother at the end of her life. Whilst an issue close to home, Robin Chapple highlights the issue affects many, and potentially all Australian’s in varying forms. From here, Robin Chapple MLC has been driven ever since to ensure that people have the choice for a peaceful and dignified passing.

Greens MP Robin Chapple first introduced assisted dying legislation in 2002 and again in 2010, although both attempts were unsuccessful. However, with the ongoing and rigorous cumulative efforts of the Greens, two decades later, WA is now closer than ever to achieving this long-awaited reform.

WA Parliament’s Joint Select Committee on End of Life Choice:

Robin Chapple MLC who has been a long-time advocate for end of life choices, subsequently served on WA Parliament’s Joint Select Committee on End of Life Choice. The Joint Select Committee participated in providing over 800 submissions and 80 personal hearings.

The final report, ‘My life, My Choice,’ was recently presented to Parliament after committee members personally heard a wide range of opinions from many sectors in the community. The report is the culmination of decades of work by The Greens and by the wider Australian community, to provide people who are suffering at the end of their lives with a compassionate and dignified option.

‘My Life, My Choice’ outlines several recommendations pertaining to death, dying, palliative care, the rights of patients and doctors, and the role of parliament in legislating on these issues. The most important being; Recommendation 24:

“The Western Australian Government develop and introduce legislation for voluntary assisted dying having regard to the recommended framework and consultation with the Panel established under Recommendation 21.”

The Greens (WA) strongly welcomed the findings and recommendations handed down by the WA Parliament’s End of Life Choices Committee and the government’s subsequent decision to legalise voluntary assisted dying in WA based on these recommendations. The Greens (WA) are absolutely committed to allowing people choice at the end of their life, which we believe is the compassionate way forward.

Greens MP Robin Chapple:

“WA has a unique opportunity to finally allow for compassion, dignity and respect for terminally ill people.”

Measures:

The Greens (WA) will initiate and support legislation that will allow for voluntary euthanasia or physician assisted dying in strictly limited situations, namely when all of the following conditions are satisfied and remain satisfied at all times during the process:

  • The applicant is a mentally competent adult (18 years or older) who voluntarily seeks to end their life in the circumstances discussed below;
  • The relevant law must set out each and every one of the protections outlined below in order to establish that the application is voluntary and remains so throughout the process;
  • The relevant law will only be available to someone who is confirmed by two separate, independent medical practitioners as being in the final stages of a terminal illness;
  • The person with the terminal illness must, at the time of application and at all later stages in the process, be currently experiencing pain or suffering associated with that terminal illness.

The Greens (WA) will initiate and support legislation that will:

  • Allow a terminally ill adult to end their life with the help of an approved medical professional;
  • Ensure that the applicant, by reason of pain  or suffering associated with a terminal illness, truly wishes to end their life;
  • Ensure that the time of death is of the applicant’s choosing;
  • Ensure that the applicant has not been pressured into their decision by family members, carers, medical professionals or any other parties;
  • Ensure that the approved medical professional to whom the request is made may refuse the request;
  • Ensure that the applicant is made aware that the approved medical professional to whom the request is made may refuse the request in which case the applicant may approach a different approved medical professional;
  • Ensure that the applicant is fully informed of the likely progress of the terminal illness, forms of practically available evidence-based treatment and the possible side-effects, benefits and outcomes;
  • Ensure that the applicant has been provided with levels of care, physical support and psychological support that are appropriate to their circumstances;
  • Ensure that the applicant has attempted all practically available evidence-based treatments and pain management measures, including where relevant, psychological support;
  • Ensure that an approved medical professional has determined that an applicant’s request is not a direct consequence of a mental disorder;
  • Limit the application of the legislation to Western Australian residents;
  • Provide a standard format upon which an application can be made;
  • Ensure that, when acting in compliance with the legislation, the applicant and any person who deals with or gives effect to a request does not incur any criminal or civil liability and is not liable to any disciplinary proceeding.

Dying with Dignity policy ratified by The Greens (WA) in 2017

Download the Dying with Dignity Policy (PDF 75.25 KB)

 

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