Dying with Dignity demands nationwide laws

Dying with Dignity NSW

Dying with Dignity NSW

Dying with Dignity groups across Australia will celebrate on Wednesday as Victoria becomes the first state to allow voluntary assisted dying for people with intolerable suffering at the end of their lives.

However, they are angry that some Members of Parliament in other states and territories continue to be swayed by fake facts and fear-mongering and ignore the huge levels of public support for these compassionate laws.

According to Penny Hackett, President of Dying with Dignity NSW, some Members of Parliament are listening to inaccurate and misleading information, spread by opponents who represent a tiny minority of the community, instead of the quality evidence which overwhelmingly supports voluntary assisted dying laws.

"Politicians must listen to the vast majority of the community who supports these laws. They must be guided by facts not fear and cast their votes based on evidence not ideology," Ms Hackett said.

"Unfortunately, many people suffer terribly at the end of their lives, even with the best palliative care. Politicians must respond with compassion and respect for those of us who want the option of a peaceful death."

Data collected by the ABC's most recent Vote Compass survey, shows nearly 90 per cent of Australians support assisted dying laws, across all demographics and political views. Other recent polls by COTA in 2018 and Roy Morgan in 2017 showed similar levels of support at 84 per cent and 85 per cent respectively.

There are now more than 17 jurisdictions around the world that have legalised assisted dying including nine US states, Canada, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Colombia.

Western Australia is the next Australian state hoping to pass an assisted dying law with a bill expected in August. Steve Walker, President of Dying with Dignity WA, praised the thorough review in WA that recommended the law after examining the evidence. He is calling for an informed, respectful and honest debate.

"Last week we saw Dr Rodney Syme, a former President of Dying with Dignity Victoria become a Member of the Order of Australia. For over 25 years, Dr Syme persistently and patiently advocated for safe and legal voluntary assisted dying laws and he always participated in the debate in a respectful and intellectually honest way, in stark contrast to some opponents," Mr Walker said.

Advocates in NSW are also expecting an updated Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill to be introduced and debated in the NSW Parliament before the end of the year.

When asked to comment on the historic day, Andrew Denton founder of Go Gentle Australia said he wanted to congratulate the Victorian Parliament and people of Victoria.

"Not only is this law long-desired and long-supported by an overwhelming majority of Victorians, it is also one of Australia's most outstanding examples of evidence-based policy making, as a joint assessment from the right-leaning Institute of Public Affairs and the left-leaning Per Capita Australia showed," Mr Denton said.

"The question now is not if but when other states will follow Victoria's compassionate lead."

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