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WA Law Society releases Voluntary Assisted Dying submission

Western Australia’s law body has released its submission in response to the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2019 as the McGowan government debates giving people with the “genuine choice and autonomy over their decision” the right to end their life.

user iconNaomi Neilson 29 November 2019 Big Law
Western Australia
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President of the Law Society of Western Australia Greg McIntyre SC confirmed it was “best placed” for a review when considering this law reform, “given [its] complex nature”. There are more than 100 safeguards with stringent measures in this proposed legislation.

“The Law Society has considered the Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) Bill solely from the perspective of what is a proper form of the law proposed,” Mr McIntyre said. “The Law Society’s submission does not address the VAD Bill from a moral, religious or policy viewpoint and is divided into the discrete areas of law that arise in VAD Bill.”

 
 

The Law Society has identified eight areas in the submission that should be given any further consideration by the parliament during the VAD Bill debate.

It’s calling first for the safeguarding against abuse and coercion, including amendments that provide that safeguarding functions could be given to existing agencies. To access voluntary assisted dying, “the person must be acting voluntarily and without coercion”.

The Law Society submitted that decision-making capacity is considered, the provision of information and documentation is weighed, “including that a registered practitioner must not initiate discussion with a patient about voluntary assisted dying”, and that the cause of death certificate must not include reference to voluntary assisted dying.

The qualifications and competencies of health practitioners must be evaluated with the appropriate guidelines, and jurisdictions of courts should be “consistent with current offences” around criminal penalties, allowing it to “deal with offences attracting a penalty of life imprisonment” and offences of unauthorised administration.

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