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Euthanasia only for the dying, commission confirms

Voluntary assisted dying laws may be further delayed, after the Queensland Law Reform Commission suggested it may not make its new May reporting date for draft legislation.

The Queensland Law Reform Commission has released its review update as it drafts voluntary assisted dying legislation to be voted on later this year, giving some insight on the complex matters it is wading through.

In a further blow to Premier Annastacia's Palaszczuk's already broken promise to introduce legislation by February 2021, QLRC chair Justice Peter Applegarth said his team had been very busy but "a large body of work remains to be done".

"The Commission will complete this complex review as soon as it reasonably can," he wrote.

"It hopes that it will be able to report and provide well-drafted legislation by its reporting date of 10 May 2021.

"However, the Commission cannot exclude the possibility that its report and the requested draft legislation will not be complete at that date."The report reveals the QLRC is grappling with a range of issues, including:

- Whether terminally-ill Queenslanders who wish to die would be able to consult with a doctor by 'telehealth' or over the phone;

- Whether doctors who object should be forced to refer their patients to a doctor who will help;

- Access to suitably-qualified people who can administer the lethal substance;

- How long before a projected death one might be able to access the scheme; and

- Compliance and oversight measures.

 

Justice Peter Applegarth.
Justice Peter Applegarth.

 

The QLRC also published 8 values and principles that are guiding the Commission in its work.

They include that every person should be provided with high-quality care and treatment, including palliative care, to alleviate suffering.

Another is that all Queenslanders should have access to voluntary assisted dying and other end-of-life choices, regardless of where they live.

It follows concerns people might consider voluntary assisted dying because they feel they don't have other choices, like appropriate and timely palliative care.

Justice Applegarth makes clear "the proposed legislation is to be about individuals who are 'suffering and dying'."

"The legislative scheme is not intended to apply to individuals, of whom there are many, who wish to die because they are tired of life or in decline, but who are not dying," his report says.

"This fact may disappoint individuals and supporters of a broad-based scheme for voluntary euthanasia or medically assisted suicide.

"It also may allay the fears of others that a voluntary assisted dying scheme would be generally accessible for those who do not wish to go on living, including the vulnerable."

Originally published as Euthanasia only for the dying, commission confirms


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