“Tasmania’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2013 sounds like a compassionate idea – until you read the fine print,” FamilyVoice Tasmania state officer Jim Collins said today. “As someone else has said, this bill has loopholes you could drive a hearse through!”
Anyone suffering from a “progressive medical condition” causing persistent suffering that is “intolerable for the person” could qualify, according to Clause 11.
“This means people suffering from treatable diseases like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis could apply, if they say their suffering is intolerable,” Mr Collins said.
“Treatable depression can greatly influence a patient’s perception of suffering, but the bill does not require assessment or treatment by a psychologist or psychiatrist.”
Mr Collins said that the bill gives a “primary medical practitioner” enormous power to decide whether or not the patient’s condition satisfies the provisions of the bill, and whether or not the patient is mentally competent to choose euthanasia.
“Although the patient must be referred to a specialist for a second opinion, the ‘primary medical practitioner’ could seek a third opinion if the first specialist disagrees,” Jim Collins said. “It is extraordinary that a medical practitioner would be allowed to kill a patient even though a specialist has determined the prognosis is wrong, or not so bleak after all.
“Pressuring someone to request assisted suicide or euthanasia would carry a fine of $26,000 and/or five years’ jail , even though such pressure would be very hard to detect. But incredibly, the same stiff penalty would apply if someone strongly persuaded a person to rescind their suicide request!
“Would Lifeline be in trouble? What sort of message would this bill send to young people who are temporarily feeling great emotional pain they regard as intolerable?” Jim Collins said.
Residency requirements mean that the bill would open the way for “death” tourism.
“Clause 10 says a Tasmanian driver’s licence – obtainable on the spot for someone with an interstate licence and a local rent receipt – would be sufficient evidence of Tasmanian residency,” Jim Collins said. “So a depressed person with diabetes could see someone like Dr Philip Nitschke on day one, and die from a lethal drug dose on day ten. There is no requirement for the person to tell family members. They could remain completely in the dark. Many would be devastated.
“It is no wonder many Tasmanians have expressed outrage and alarm at the bill!” Mr Collins said.
“I am elderly and feel vulnerable at the idea of euthanasia being introduced here,” Tasmanian resident Gillian Rubidge said.
“Euthanasia closes the door of hope that things may get better,” Irene Legg said.
“However this dangerous bill is dressed up, the underlying intent is to legalise medical killing – and no safeguards can ever ensure killing patients is a truly safe choice. MPs should vote against it!” Mr Collins said.
- Human life and dignity