A Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill (NSW) 2021 (VAD) is set to be introduced by Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich as soon as October 14.
The change in premier has given advocates some cause for optimism since former Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she would not allow a conscience vote on VAD after the dragged-out decriminalisation of the abortion debate.
While the church hierarchy and far-right of the Liberals have long opposed abortion and voluntary assisted dying, VAD has nearly 80% public support, including from the majority of those identifying as Christian.
Vice President of Dying with Dignity NSW Shayne Higson told Green Left that the new Premier could be good news for VAD. Dominic Perrottet, a devout Catholic, has said he will allow a conscience vote on bill.
While this is yet to be confirmed by the Liberals, Higson said advocates are keeping up the pressure. The Nationals change of leadership, following the resignation of John Barilaro, is not so concerning, she said, because that party has always taken a “common sense approach” to VAD. “There is strong support for VAD from the Nationals.”
When Greenwich finally introduces the VAD bill, it will likely be the last stop on a very long road for advocates, supporters and most importantly, terminally-ill people seeking the same rights as all the other states. Greenwich has worked hard to secure cross party support for the bill, Higson said.
These rights include the right to alleviate their own terminal, unbelievable suffering, voluntarily, legally and at a time and place of their choosing.
Higson said she had been fighting for VAD to become law for nine years, since her own Mum died a terrible death of brain cancer. Many people like her, as part of Dying with Dignity, Go Gentle, and others, have been fighting for decades to uphold the basic human right to your own humane death.
Higson hopes the bill will be passed before Christmas, allowing hard-working advocates to see the people’s will prevail.