The McGowan Government has now tabled a total of 12 amendments to Western Australia’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2019. These amendments enhance the proposed Voluntary Assisted Dying laws which are safe, compassionate and workable.
One of the six new amendments tabled today means only doctors and nurse practitioners can initiate a discussion about Voluntary Assisted Dying with patients, with other health care workers prohibited from raising the subject of Voluntary Assisted Dying. This amendment also makes clear that a person can themselves raise Voluntary Assisted Dying with a health care worker.
Today’s final package of amendments also underpin good medical practice to provide doctors greater clarity regarding their obligations under the proposed legislation. For example, it makes explicit the following:
- The need for the assessment of the patient by the second consulting practitioner to be independent; and
- That doctors may have regard for the patient’s existing medical history.
The six previously tabled amendments will mean:
- A medical consultation is the only avenue to make an initial request for voluntary assisted dying;
- It is mandatory for both practitioners to report the palliative care options available to the patient to the Voluntary Assisted Dying Board;
- It is possible for a family member to be one witness to a patient’s written declaration;
- Medical practitioners will no longer be liable for a fine if they fail to lodge the first request form; and
- It is explicit that a doctor who acts without reasonable care and skill will not be protected from claims of negligence.
Any amendments made to the Bill in the Legislative Council will also need to be considered in the Legislative Assembly.
The proposed laws would enable Western Australian adults with a terminal illness who are experiencing intolerable suffering to seek assistance to end their life, should they choose to.
As stated by Health Minister Roger Cook:
“The McGowan Government has listened to the arguments surrounding the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill, we have debated with members of parliament and consulted with key stakeholders to produce this final package of amendments.
“These amendments are the result of considered collaboration and have the support of the Australian Medical Association WA Branch. I look forward to the active engagement of the AMA (WA) in the implementation phase of the Bill on the event that it is passed by Parliament.
“We know there is strong support in Western Australia for laws that legalise voluntary assisted dying so it is important we provide clarity and reassurance for those who will have direct involvement in these decisions.
“I urge the Opposition Leader to do the right thing and ensure the passage of this Bill is not delayed in the Upper House by the small minority in the Liberal Party who want to wreck this legislation.”