Submission: Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021

On 18 November NSWCCL made a submission to the Inquiry into the Provisions of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021.

We encourage NSW residents to let the Inquiry know how you feel via its online questionnaire (closing date Monday 22 November).

NSWCCL strongly supports the Bill, which has very strong public support and is long overdue. Death may be inevitable, but it need not be cruel. 

The Bill will allow NSW adult patients, with terminal illnesses who are near death and suffering intolerably, the informed and voluntary choice to die painlessly and with dignity. It incorporates strong safeguards to ensure that patients are making a truly voluntary and considered choice, and that they are fully informed of the treatments available to them.

The Bill recognises that terminally ill patients have the right to live with dignity and respect, and to be provided with high quality palliative care. But for some patients, even the best end of life care available cannot prevent intolerable suffering. The Bill will allow these patients to end their suffering on their own terms.

Having the choice to access voluntary assisted dying will also give comfort to patients who are receiving palliative care and wish to continue doing so. They can receive treatment and care without having to live with the fear that they will have no options available to them to prevent further suffering if their treatments become less effective at alleviating their pain and suffering over time.

Whilst there is strong public support for the Bill, NSWCCL recognises that some in the community have deeply held convictions against voluntary assisted dying. The Bill adequately and appropriately respects those convictions and espouses the principle that all persons, including health practitioners, have the right to be shown respect for their culture, religion, beliefs, values and personal characteristics.

In our submission, we set out an outline of the Bill and its safeguards, note the strong public support for the Bill, and describe the Australian precedents for the Bill. We also set out our responses to some of the common concerns raised about voluntary assisted dying.

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See also: Voluntary Assisted Dying - it's time, NSW NSWCCL 3 Sept '21 (quick VAD facts and how you can help)