Amended voluntary assisted dying Bill offers no protection for vulnerable

Catholic Health Australia

Catholic Health Australia has condemned the decision by pro-voluntary assisted dying MPs to vote down a raft of amendments designed to protect the vulnerable. Many of the amendments advanced by MPs aimed to strengthen safeguards in the Bill, including requiring a specialist to give a diagnosis, stronger protections around decision-making capacity, the detection of coercion, and preventing health workers from initiating a discussion around VAD.

All amendments were voted down in a block by the Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich and the Bill’s co-sponsors and supporters.

Catholic Health Australia’s Chair, the Hon John Watkins AM, said the Bill was now without many potential safeguards.

“We are disappointed the Lower House voted through the Bill, but what’s especially regrettable is it is shorn of all potential protections for the vulnerable,” Mr Watkins said.

“Members of Parliament put forward a number of amendments designed to ensure that whatever Bill goes forward actually has safeguards to protect the vulnerable from coercion and ensure people who are ineligible do not get pushed towards voluntary assisted dying. This Bill was weak when it went into the chamber, but what has emerged is alarming.”

Mr Watkins said, for example, that the NSW Bill has no requirement for VAD doctors to have relevant expertise and experience in the disease, illness or medical condition expected to cause death of the person being assessed. “ensure at least one of the two participating doctors has expertise and experience in relation to the relevant disease, illness or medical condition and treatment options is a necessary safeguard and required under the Victorian VAD legislation,” Mr Watkins said.

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