What your MPs think about voluntary assisted dying

The proposed Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill says a person will not be eligible for access to voluntary assisted dying just because they have a disability or are diagnosed with a mental illness. File picture

BUTLER MLA John Quigley says he is going to vote for the proposed Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill, which politicians are debating in state Parliament, because he does not think it Christian to force his own Catholic beliefs on others.

A Hansard transcript for August 29 includes some comments, which indicate that for Mr Quigley if and when his own time comes his Catholicism will inevitably have something to do with his personal choice but he was voting in favour of the legislation because it contained 102 safeguards and that was what his community wanted.

He said the Bill was not about euthanasia or someone making a decision about whether someone else lived or died but about someone who was dying and who could no longer sustain the pain of what they were going through.

Mr Quigley, who has had T-cell lymphoma said he was talking to the 30 per cent of the community who did not believe in God.

“How is it that I could come here as a legislator and say ‘Because of my own personal beliefs you’re going to suffer – because of my personal beliefs you’re not going to have an option’,’’ he said.

Girrawheen MLA Margaret Quirk said she was an imperfect Catholic and firmly believed life was valuable but other influences were operative in her approach to the Bill.

She said members of Parliament needed to dispassionately and objectively consider the individual clauses of the Bill to assess how the laws would operate in practice, whether there would be any unintended consequences, whether the most vulnerable would be adequately protected and whether the laws would profoundly corrupt the practice of medicine.

“I also reject outright the assertion that anyone who departs from the orthodoxy lacks compassion,’’ she said.

“No-one has a monopoly on empathy, and heartfelt emotions are sincerely felt on both sides.’’

She said many of the so-called 102 safeguards were eligibility criteria rather than protections and that there were fewer protections in the proposed WA legislation than in the Victorian law.

Wanneroo MLA Sabine Winton said she was voting for the legislation on behalf of the overwhelming majority of the people of Wanneroo who wanted politicians to pass the Bill.

Ms Winton said the Bill was for those in the community who were at the end of their life and who wanted the right to choose a death that was dignified.

She said it was all about the patient, not about what a medical practitioner or the medical profession deemed sufferable.

“The truth is that there is nothing to fear in this bill,’’ she said.

“I am absolutely confident that this Bill addresses the concerns that have been raised with me and that have been raised through the various consultation processes.

“The Bill proposes a systematic process through which a person may access voluntary assisted dying.’’

 But Ms Quirk said passing the legislation would be conceding the state could not provide palliative care to all Western Australians irrespective of where they lived.

Ms Quirk said adopting the Bill would mean consigning the vulnerable, depressed, mentally ill and socially isolated to the risk of coercion or worse still that they had no choice but to accede to an early and untimely death.

“We are ultimately choosing between two systems in which some suffering may be difficult to treat or manage and one in which regulation is very difficult to perfectly enforce,’’ she said.