Dying With Dignity New South Wales, Go Gentle Australia and supporters of the Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) Bill have pressed the case outside the NSW parliament over several days in recent weeks. NSW is the only state without such as law.
The bill seeks to give those with a terminal illness and expected to live for less than 12 months the right to expedite their death.
The VAD Bill is now before the Legislative Council (LC), but supporters are concerned it is being stalled. It passed the lower house last year, with a margin of 20 votes, and had its second reading speech in the LC on March 23. Out of the 13 speeches given, nine were in favour.
Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich, who introduced the bill last year to the Legislative Assembly, said: “If we don’t act, if we don’t vote, what we will see happen is ... people dying horrific deaths, people with an advanced terminal illness taking their own life to prevent further suffering."
Greenwich tweeted on March 30 that a majority (22) MLCs had spoken in favour of the bill.
“This bill hands the choice of whether you suffer or not at the end of life back to the people who are terminally ill. It doesn’t put it in the hands of the doctor, it puts it in the hands of the people,” said Go Gentle Australia spokesperson Kiki Paul.
Euthanasia advocate and media personality Andrew Denton, who watched his father struggle with a terminal illness, said: “It’s inconceivable that NSW will remain the only state in Australia without these protections.”
It appears the LC debate may only resume in May.