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O'Connor and Giddings Launch Voluntary Assisted Dying Petition

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Friday, 26 February 2016

Tags: Voluntary Assisted Dying

Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader

I was proud to join Labor's Lara Giddings to launch Helena Lettau’s petition in support of a strong, State-based voluntary assisted dying framework in Launceston today.

Voluntary assisted dying is a fundamental human rights issue.  That is why Lara and I will be continuing our advocacy on this issue and co-sponsoring legislation to legalise dying with dignity in Tasmania.

At the moment, there are Tasmanians who are forced, against their wishes, to suffer through incurable, irreversible medical conditions and the law as it stands is doing nothing to protect them or their doctors.

Too many Tasmanians are living with persistent and intolerable pain and being denied the right to die with dignity.

These terminally ill Tasmanians, who can find no relief through palliative care, deserve to have access to dignified choices at the end of their lives.

The legislation Lara and I are co-sponsoring would give choices to patients, protection to doctors and clarity around rights and responsibilities of the people involved.

In 2013, an EMRS survey showed 80% of Tasmanians supported voluntary assisted dying. It's time for our parliamentarians to catch up the views of the broader society.

In 2009, when Tasmania's first voluntary assisted dying legislation was tabled by then Greens' Leader, Nick McKim, seven members of the Lower House supported the Bill.

I am pleased to say Lara Giddings showed great courage in voting for Nick's private members Bill when the majority of her Party and every Liberal MP did not.

Four years later, when the House debated Mr McKim and Ms Giddings' co-sponsored Bill, 11 members voted in support.

Support is growing across the globe, with Canada, Netherlands, Belgium, Oregon and Washington all allowing voluntary assisted dying.

There will be a conscience debate on our legislation towards the end of the Parliamentary year.  It is our hope that elected representatives from across the political spectrum will put their constituents first and support a safe, legal framework for dying with dignity in Tasmania.