Queensland leads push to scrap telehealth law

Annastacia Palaszczuk (Facebook/Annastacia PalaszczukMP)

Queensland is leading the push to overhaul a Commonwealth law that bans doctors from “inciting or counselling” suicide over the phone or internet, to enable regional Australians to more easily access euthanasia. Source: The Australian.

Five of Australia’s six states have now embraced voluntary euthanasia for the terminally ill after a historic vote in the Queensland Parliament this month.

NSW is the last state to offer its residents the right to die, but independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich is expected to introduce legislation to state parliament in October.

Despite 17 million Australians now covered by state schemes, the Morrison Government has refused to exempt doctors from federal prosecution for giving advice on euthanasia to terminally ill patients via telehealth.

A federal law passed in 2005 prevents doctors from encouraging suicide by phone, email or videoconference, punishable by a fine of $222,000.

While advocates say voluntary euthanasia is not a form of suicide, they warn doctors are still at risk of prosecution.

Federal Attorney-General Michaelia Cash did not respond to a request for comment on Friday, but her spokesman has previously said the Government “has no plans to amend the suicide related material offences in the Commonwealth Criminal Code”.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is preparing to write her third letter to the Prime Minister urging him to amend the Criminal Code to ensure regional Australians have equitable access to the euthanasia scheme.

FULL STORY

Push to shield voluntary assisted dying doctors (By Lydia Lynch, The Australian)

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