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Labor Should Withdraw VAD Amendment, Vote Against Prognostic Timeframes


Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Tags: Voluntary Assisted Dying

Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens Leader 

A Labor amendment in the Legislative Council to introduce 'conscientious objection by entities' to the End of Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill is in conflict with the fundamental intent of the Bill, and should be withdrawn. 

To deliver the most compassionate outcomes for those terminally ill and experiencing intolerable suffering, MLCs should also vote against the introduction of prognostic timeframes. 
 
The 'conscientious objection by entities' amendment allows for health service providers and establishments, and residential care providers, to refuse to authorise “any part of the voluntary assisted dying process in relation to a person who resides in, or receives services at, the establishment, including any assessments as to whether a person is eligible to access voluntary assisted dying.”
 
Dozens of aged and residential care facilities, and medical and support services in lutruwita/Tasmania are run by religious organisations, many of which have publicly objected to voluntary assisted dying. 

This amendment gives these organisations a direct say in whether or not their residents can even be assessed for voluntary assisted dying while in their care. It has the potential to create traumatic end of life experiences for people and their families.
 
The proposed introduction of prognostic timeframes to the Bill would be a blow to delivering the most compassionate response  for people who want to access the scheme. Doctors may not be able to give an exact prognosis timeframe for those who are terminally ill, but this should not mean someone is prevented from exercising their right to choose if they are suffering intolerably and their pain can’t be relieved through palliation. 

This Bill is carefully designed to give people the safe choice to avoid unnecessary, unbearable suffering, but this amendment would deprive suffering Tasmanians of that choice.

The fundamental purpose of this Bill is to give people a choice, and peace of mind. These amendments only serve to undermine that the legislation’s capacity to provide that safe, medically supported choice. 
 
We call on the Labor Party to rethink their flawed amendment, and withdraw it from consideration. We also urge all MLCs to vote against the amendment to introduce prognostic timeframes.