Three Ministers – the Minister for Health, the Premier, and the Attorney-General - took turns at explaining (or attempting to explain) the detailed clauses of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2019 and defending its seaworthiness during a lengthy overnight debate on Thursday 5 to Friday 6 September 2019.
Humpty Dumpty (the Minister for Health, Roger Cook) continued his insistence that taking a lethal poison to cause one’s own death is NOT suicide because he says so in Clause 11 of his Bill and he is the master:
“this is not suicide; this is the relief of suffering at one’s hand”.
However, “If a death takes place outside the framework of this law, it will become subject to the Criminal Code and it is suicide”.
So on the Minister’s own admission the very same act – taking a lethal poison prescribed by a doctor is NOT suicide if all the right forms are lodged but is suicide if they are not all lodged correctly.
As the Minister for Health, Roger Cook, responded in late night debates in the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia to probing questions on the detail of his Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2019 he made some disturbing admissions.
Alarmingly he conceded that, notwithstanding its vaunted 102 safeguards:
nothing in this bill will protect patients from someone who has decided to become a serial murderer—nothing—so to try to provide protection ... is absurd.
Despite a well-reasoned case put by Dr Tony Buti (a Labor member who voted for the Bill) for an amendment to prohibit a doctor from initiating a proposal for assisted suicide or euthanasia with a person, the Minister rejected this proposal and the amendment was defeated 34-17.
Dr Harold Shipman may have killed 250 of his patients
Liberal member for Churchlands, Sean L'Estrange shared with the WA Legislative Assembly how both his mum and dad outlived cancer prognoses to achieve many significant milestones with their family. He warned that if euthanasia and assisted suicide were legalised this could "have hung over them like a difficult decision embedded in their subconscious when they were in their darkest hours".
Labor MP, Margaret Quirk, has warned that the WA euthanasia and assisted suicide bill poses a particular risk to First Nation people; to the elderly; and to regional Western Australians without equitable access to palliative care.
It is an easy option - the white flag of surrender - instead she called on MPs to woprk together to "marshal the considerable resources in our health system to allow those with a terminal illness to enjoy a quality of life in their remaining time".
Liza Harvey, Leader of the Opposition, spoke movingly in the WA Legislative Assembly on Thursday 29 August 2019, about the three precious years she and her children shared with her husband Hal after he was helped to overcome his initial depression and to reverse his decision to undergo assisted suicide in Switzerland.
Speaking in opposition to the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2019 in the Legislative Assembly of the Parliament of Western Australia on Wednesday 28 August 2019, Dr David Honey, the Liberal Member for Cottesloe, made several telling points.
Firstly, he noted that much of the drive for assisted suicide and euthanasia is based on observer accounts of a loved one’s death as “distressing”:
It is my observation that in many cases when people are dying of natural causes at an older age, it seems to be more distressing for the people observing the process than the person who is dying. I have met many older people who are reconciled with their imminent death and are satisfied that they have lived meaningful lives. I believe that the observer’s distress drives a lot of the emotion around legislating an alternative outcome, avoiding untidy or disconcerting outcomes with a certain outcome, being able to stage a good death. It is easy to confuse our own distress at seeing a loved one incapacitated and in pain for distress on their part. The dying person may sometimes be in less distress than those who cannot bear to watch them die.