WA euthanasia debate reaches crucial stage

Upper House president Kate Doust says she hopes the debate will be respectful (7News)

The push for voluntary euthanasia in Western Australia has entered a crucial stage in Parliament, with debate commencing in the upper house yesterday. Source: 7News.

The debate on the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill to allow terminally ill people to end their own lives could potentially go on until the end of the year and even into 2020.

It’s expected to be as emotional and passionately argued as the bill’s passage through the Legislative Assembly during August and September, where it passed 45 votes to 11.

However, the Legislative Council is a different beast. Thirty-five of the council’s 36 members will vote according to their conscience.

One member, council president Kate Doust, does not get to vote.

“My job is to manage the Parliament and the debate through the Parliament,” she said. “It’s going to be an interesting few weeks, and I imagine a lot of pressure on people.

“I hope we have a very respectful debate in the House.”

The magic number for the Bill to pass into law is 18 votes.

Supporters of voluntary assisted dying believe they have secured between 18 and 20 “yes” votes, but some of those are believed to be “soft” yes votes, which could fall away if the Government doesn’t agree to some changes.

Meanwhile, Premier Mark McGowan has pushed back at a new campaign against euthanasia spearheaded by former federal Labor MP Tim Hammond, saying opponents of the bill should stick to the facts, The West Australian reports.

Mr Hammond is one of most prominent identities in a new video campaign against assisted dying laws, released as debate on the legislation got under way in the upper house.

He says in the video that he has concerns about laws “giving someone else” the right to end the life of a family member such as his wife or mum if they were terminally ill.

Mr McGowan said it was important for the public to understand that the bill was about giving patients choice about how they die when death is certain – it was not giving someone the right to kill others.

“Eligible people who are making this choice for themselves must have decision-making capacity,” he said.

“To suggest it is involuntary is wrong. It’s important that opponents of the bill are factual and don’t mislead about the bill.”

FULL STORY

‘Interesting few weeks’: Voluntary assisted dying debate reaches crucial stage in WA (7News)

Federal, State Labor split over WA assisted dying laws (The West Australian)

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