The complete guide to voluntary assisted dying in Australian Capital Territory.
Voluntary assisted dying, also known as voluntary euthanasia, is a complex and controversial topic that has been debated for many years in Australia. In recent times, there has been a growing interest and discussion about the legal, ethical, and practical aspects of voluntary assisted dying in the country.
This comprehensive guide aims to provide a thorough overview of voluntary assisted dying, covering its history, legal framework, eligibility and criteria, process and much more.
History of voluntary assisted dying in Australia.
Voluntary assisted dying has a long history of debate and discussion in Australia. The topic gained significant attention in the late 20th century when various attempts were made to introduce legislation allowing voluntary euthanasia.
However, these attempts faced strong opposition from different quarters, including religious groups, medical associations, and ethicists, leading to the failure of such legislation.
Legal framework for voluntary assisted dying in Australian Capital Territory.
The ACT Government has created short Discussion Guides to help share views on different aspects of voluntary assisted dying, like who should be eligible, how it should be done, and how it will be monitored. These Guides are based on a longer Discussion Paper. The government wants to hear what the people of Canberra think about voluntary assisted dying. They will ask for opinions and use them to decide how it should work in the ACT. A talk to experts and the people of Canberra to get their input was scheduled in February and March 2023.
Once they have gathered feedback from the community, they will create a new law based on that feedback. The law will be presented to the ACT Legislative Assembly in the second half of 2023. However, it will take some time to set up the necessary systems, train practitioners, and establish the process before voluntary assisted dying becomes available to eligible individuals.
Eligibility and criteria for voluntary assisted dying.
To be eligible for voluntary assisted dying in Australian Capital Territory, there are strict criteria that must be met and discussion is still ongoing for these requirements. Different states have slightly different eligibility, however eligible adults generally must be mentally competent, have a terminal illness that is expected to cause death within a specified timeframe, experience intolerable suffering that cannot be relieved, and make voluntary and informed requests for assistance to die.
These criteria are designed to ensure that only individuals who are genuinely suffering and near the end of life can access voluntary assisted dying. ACT is still in the process of seeking views on who should be eligible for voluntary assisted dying.
Process of accessing voluntary assisted dying in Australian Capital Territory.
ACT is still set to provide a guideline, and the discussion is still in process. In other places in Australia, the process of voluntary assisted dying involves the person consulting with two qualified doctors. Initially, the person consults a qualified and experienced doctor (first doctor) to assess their eligibility for voluntary assisted dying. If the first doctor determines that the person is eligible, the person then consults a different qualified and experienced doctor (second doctor) to request assistance with voluntary assisted dying. The second doctor assesses the person's eligibility and confirms their suitability for the option.
After confirmation of eligibility, the person makes a written request, which is witnessed by independent individuals. A final request is then made to the first doctor, who verifies eligibility, submits paperwork, and arranges for a pharmacist to supply the prescribed substance for voluntary assisted dying. The person retains the option to self-administer the substance or seek assistance from a healthcare professional.
A prohibition on the Australian Capital Territory passing its own voluntary assisted dying law has now been lifted. The Australian Parliament lifted the ban with the passage of the Restoring Territory Rights Bill 2022.
In 1993, the ACT tried to legalise assisted dying but failed. Later, in 1995, the Northern Territory became the first place in the world to have a voluntary euthanasia law. However, the Commonwealth overturned it and banned the ACT and NT from discussing the issue again.
Now that the ban is lifted, the ACT government plans to consider a voluntary assisted dying law in the second half of 2023.
Final thoughts on voluntary assisted dying in Canberra.
Voluntary assisted dying is a multifaceted and sensitive topic that involves various legal, ethical, medical, and societal considerations. It provides a compassionate option for individuals who are facing intolerable suffering and wish to have control over their own end-of-life decisions. However, it also raises concerns about potential risks, abuse, and ethical implications.
Ultimately, this should be approached respectfully as it can be a sensitive topic for many. Allowing people to die on their own terms means they can have a good death where their access to care and choices are respected. Furthermore, openly discussing death and dying can help prepare families for the passing and voluntary assisted dying can keep them more involved in the process, so they can ensure they’re close by for the final goodbye.
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