Monday, 31 July 2017

More time available to share your thoughts

VOLUNTARY assisted dying should become a reality in NSW according to residents of the Northern Tablelands, Local MP Adam Marshall said today.

Following a fortnight of feedback and more than 1,000 responses, greater than two thirds of respondents support the draft Bill to legalise voluntary assisted dying. The bill, which is due to be debated in State Parliament later this year, would provide a legislative framework for terminally ill patients to end their life on their own terms.

Mr Marshall said the survey on the draft Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017 inspired considered opinions on both sides of the debate.

“This is a difficult piece of legislation – with impassioned arguments made by supporters and opponents of voluntary assisted dying,” Mr Marshall said.

“After two weeks, it appears as though the community’s wishes are now clear. Of the more than 1,000 respondents, 67.3% of people support the introduction of the draft bill, with 28.9% in opposition.

“Most importantly, almost 600 locals, carers and medical professionals have shared their considered thoughts on the draft legislation. I’ve read hundreds of insightful, considerate and often poignant comments, with an incredible breadth of opinion and belief, with some suggesting some good amendments too.

“While there is widespread support for the introduction of this bill, there are also many who would like to see the proposed rules for voluntary assisted dying changed, and many who oppose the idea entirely for a variety of reasons.

“The key comments I’ve read are around how this legislation will be enforced, with some also looking to see the minimum age changed and others concerned about eligibility becoming broader under a future government.

“Each comment and vote will be crucial in helping parliament make an informed decision when debate begins later this year.”

The draft bill was crafted by a non-partisan group of MP’s and MLC’s from all sides of politics, with extensive consultation from medical groups, psychologists and patients.

Mr Marshall said that it included a number of safeguards to ensure it would only be used in the most pressing circumstances.

“In order to be eligible to receive help ending their life; a patient must have an illness that is believed to be terminal within 12 months, must be over 25 years old and must be in severe pain or have a diminished quality of life,” he said.

“Every patient who is considering exercising this right would undergo checks from several medical and mental health professionals to ensure it’s the right option for them. There are severe penalties in place to ensure it’s not abused.”

Mr Marshall stressed that despite the positive results, his vote and that of parliament was not yet decided.

“I’m confident that should this bill go before parliament, Members of both houses would be able to vote according to their conscience – ensuring that the views of the community will be kept in mind,” Mr Marshall said.

“I thank everyone who has made their thoughts known, and encourage any members of the community who have not yet responded to do so.”

Mr Marshall’s survey and a full copy of the draft legislation is available online at www.adammarshall.com.au/survey

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