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Very promising news from Victoria

The Victorian Parliament Legal and Social Issues Committee has tabled its Final Report on its Inquiry into End of Life Choices. This includes recommendations on palliative care, Advance Directives, etc, and particularly Recommendation 49: That the Victorian Government introduce a legal framework providing for assisted dying, by enacting legislation based on the assisted dying framework outlined in this Report in Annex 1, Assisted Dying Framework Summary.

I was invited to address the Inquiry in Melbourne as a witness, and I am pleased to be quoted twice in the full Final Report. It now remains to be seen if the Victorian Parliament will proceed to adopt and enact legislation on the recommendations.

To access the full Report click here> http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/images/stories/committees/SCLSI/EOL_Report/LSIC_58-05_Text_WEB.pdf  or the Summary Booklet please click here> http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/images/stories/committees/SCLSI/EOL_Report/LSIC_58-05_Booklet_Text_WEB.pdf

The 2016 Federal Election for readers in NSW

An election can be an ideal time to raise the issue of support for assisted dying.

Readers in NSW may wish to urgently contact Federal Senate candidates and the Lower House candidates and sitting MPs in your Electorate and ask each one if they personally would support, in principle, a terminally ill person, facing unbearable suffering, to have the legal choice of a medically assisted death. Would you please pass on any response to me so that I can in turn forward it to DWDnsw.

DWDnsw have prepared an excellent list and contact details of all NSW candidates in both the Federal Senate and Lower House and it can be accessed by clicking here > http://www.dwdnsw.org.au/lobby-your-candidates-for-the-2016-federal-election/
DWDnsw also list parties and groups who have a policy of support for assisted dying and those who have a policy of opposition.

While I would not presume to suggest how any person could vote, Shayne Higson, lead candidate for the Voluntary Euthanasia Party (VEP) http://www.vep.org.au/2016_election has pointed out the new form of voting in the Senate does give an opportunity for a ‘protest vote’ in support of VE.  Simply vote [1] above the line for VEP (Group K) or a group who support VE/assisted dying, then at least numbers 2 – 6 for other groups above the line, including the Party you would normally vote for.

The Andrew Denton “Better off Dead” podcasts

Andrew Denton investigates the stories, moral arguments and individuals woven into discussions about why good people are dying bad deaths in Australia – because there is no law to help them.  I first posted about this series in November 2015.

If you wish to be better informed about assisted dying this series is a MUST to listen to.  Each episode approaches the issue from a different aspect.  Episode 16, “Abandon Hope” in which Andrew Denton interviews Paul Russell of HOPE No Euthanasia, is particularly revealing.

I would have liked to hear Andrew question Paul Russell on terminal sedation!

Please check out http://www.wheelercentre.com/broadcasts/podcasts/better-off-dead/16-abandon-hope

Other episodes demonstrate the inhumanity and lack of compassion in the present legal and medical system for those with a terminal or incurable illness facing unbearable suffering.

 

Do you wish to be better informed about assisted dying issues? Suggested reading for 2016.

With new assisted dying Bills proposed for South Australia and Tasmania, the inquiry in Victoria and a cross party committee working on the issue in NSW, I am hoping there will be a breakthrough to give compassionate CHOICE in 2016.

Quebec Province in Canada in 2014, and California in USA in 2015 have shown Australia how it can be done in 2016!

Meanwhile if you would like to read more of the facts supporting CHOICE for assisted dying and/or voluntary euthanasia, please check out the following books Continue reading

Ian Wood – his followup letter to Kevin Andrews MP re the John Baylis Diary and Marshall Perron’s letter to Kevin Andrews MP

Hon Kevin Andrews MP                                               Posted 19.11.2015, on C4VE letterhead
Parliament House
CANBERRA ACT
2600

Dear Mr Andrews

Marshall Perron, former Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, wrote to you recently about the diary of the tragic last weeks of John Baylis, who died from Motor Neurone Disease.

As Mr Perron so clearly and succinctly pointed out, the fact that John Baylis could not access the assisted death he so rationally requested, was due to your action in instigating the overturning of the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act.

What Mr Perron did not say, is that you do still have the opportunity to go some way in atoning for what a substantial majority of Christians believe was your regrettable lack of compassion for the terminally ill, as they die with suffering that even the best palliative care cannot relieve.

Eighteen years have now passed since Oregon State, USA enacted their Death With Dignity Act in 1997. Since then three other states enacted similar legislation – Washington State. Vermont and California. Montana and New Mexico also have the right by a court decision In Europe, The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg have had choice since 2002, in addition to Switzerland.

There is now a mass of data available, based on the experience in these countries.
Essentially, we can now state Continue reading

The diary of John Baylis, and Marshall Perron’s letter to Kevin Andrews MP

83 year old Darwin man John Baylis died from the ravages of Motor Neuron Disease on 5th March 2015.  He wrote Imagine if you can, a good mind, with good recall and an active imagination, trapped in a body that can’t walk, can’t talk, both arms and hands affected, lips, and throat not under control. Difficulty eating and drinking. It is an awful place to be, believe me. The reason I have “ come out of the Closet “ is to promote and push for the right to die with dignity.

John Baylis’ Diary

83 year old Darwin man John Baylis died from the ravages of Motor Neuron Disease on 5th March 2015. This is an exact extract of his Facebook diary.
Dec 15, 2014 – Aged Care Assessment Teams ( ACAT ) I have finally been diagnosed by my GP , as having ‘ the monster inside me ‘ being diagnosed as Motor Neurone Disease . We applied for me to be assessed by ACAT , and they required a doctors report . My GP stated that I had MND . Fifteen years ago now , Dr Burrows of RDH made multiple diagnosis of my emerging symptoms . They were MND , small vessel disease , Myclophaphy and possibly Slow Person Syndrome , SPS. I visited a prominent Brisbane MND specialist three times , Continue reading

Better Off Dead. The Andrew Denton podcasts.

From early 2016, Andrew Denton investigates the stories, moral arguments and individuals woven into discussions about why good people are dying bad deaths in Australia – because there is no law to help them.
Listen to the Introduction, and two other significant podcasts already available here. The “Invasion of Death” and “Liz’s story” are mandatory viewing. http://www.wheelercentre.com/broadcasts/podcasts/better-off-dead

An Argument for Assisted Dying in Australia: Andrew Denton’s Di Gribble Argument in full

At the Di Gribble Argument 2015, Andrew Denton presented his case for an assisted dying law that would spare many Australians from unnecessary suffering. You can now read his speech in full – outlining his months of research and careful reasoning.
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Please note: this article is not about suicide. If you are interested in increasing your understanding of suicide and how to support someone experiencing suicidal ideation, visit the Conversations Matter or beyondblue websites.

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Andrew Denton…….
Who am I to be talking to you about a subject as complex as assisted dying? I have no medical qualifications – just two Logie nominations – so what would I know?
It’s true, I have no expertise … other than the expertise many of us share: I saw someone I love die badly.
My dad, Kit, used to joke that he wanted to go by walking into the shallow end of an Olympic-sized pool filled with single malt whisky, and just keep walking. Sadly, that never happened.
Watching him die remains the most profoundly shocking experience of my life.
He was 67, and though clearly dying of heart failure, and obviously in great pain, dad was assisted to die in the only way that Australia’s law then (and now) would allow: he was given ever-increasing doses of sedatives to settle the pain.
But morphine never did settle the pain. The images of those final three days will never be erased. To read more….http://www.wheelercentre.com/notes/an-argument-for-assisted-dying-in-australia-andrew-denton-s-di-gribble-argument-in-full

Ian Wood comment – Andrew is certainly raising the profile of assisted dying in Australia, presenting a well argued argument for this issue, and a well informed rebuttal of the scaremongering put forward by those opposing CHOICE.

Response to NSW Premier Mike Baird to ABC Q&A

Mike Baird
Premier of NSW
SYDNEY

Dear Mr Baird

Thank you for publicly admitting on ABC Q&A, 6.9.2015, that you had very strong views on [against] legalising CHOICE in assisted dying, but after talking with a man in a terrible position, his pleas will ‘haunt’ you.

John Grayson, the 34 year old with terminal brain cancer, vividly described his prognosis – “I am going to end up with right hand side paralysis, blindness, being mute. I will end up in severe, chronic pain. I will have cognitive impaired ability and I will eventually die. What I want to know is why I’m forced to go through that torture.” (Ref 1)

GEOFFREY ROBERTSON: Look, we have a fundamental right not to be subjected to torture and if that torture is cancer, if it’s a terminal illness, we are entitled to take ourselves out of it. It is an awesome decision to make, but [it’s] we are entitled to make it without the intervention of the state, without having those who assist us, often our loved family with whom we have a final meal or whatever, arrested and charged with assisting suicide. Surely that’s right.

MIKE BAIRD: “my concern would be, you know, making a judgment on life”. Fact: You are not making a judgment on life. When an illness is terminal, the patient would be making a judgement on choosing to endure the torture, or die a quick, pain-free death It is not a choice between life and death, but a choice between two different ways of dying. Continue reading

Dr Rodney Syme – the speech on dying the RACP refused to listen to!

Full text of Dr Rodney Syme’s speech on the right to physician-assisted death – as prepared for the RACP Conference – May 2015.   “Quite long, but well worth reading,” says Ian Wood

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/comment/full-text-of-dr-rodney-symes-speech-on-the-right-to-physicianassisted-death-20150526-gh9vh0.html
Although I am nearly 80 years old and retired from surgery, I am still practising medicine. For over 25 years I have been counselling people about their end of life concerns. Those conversations are prolonged and open ended. At all times, I endeavour to help people to go as far with their lives as possible. From that experience I have learnt one invaluable lesson – my first self-evident truth – that giving people control over the end of their lives is one of the most valuable palliative tools we have at our disposal.
Today I am going to address the gap between the rhetoric and the reality of palliative care.
From humble beginnings, due to the compassion and energy of Cicely Saunders, palliative care has grown from a single London hospice to a world-wide specialty with strong government support. It is one of the most important developments in modern medicine. It aims to provide compassionate and holistic care for the terminally ill.
Examination of the at least 27 journals devoted to research into palliative care reveals an intuitively obvious conclusion – that ethical research in this area is fraught by a constantly moving target making accurate statistical analysis virtually impossible. Despite the subjective impression that most patients benefit from their hospice care, it has been exceedingly difficult to demonstrate any objective benefits for such care. Continue reading

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