Baldivis MLA Reece Whitby supports assisted dying

Baldivis MLA Reece Whitby with the report.
Baldivis MLA Reece Whitby with the report.

BALDIVIS MLA Reece Whitby said he supports those with terminal illnesses having the option to end their lives.

Although he concedes it is a contentious issue, after a year-long investigation into it as part of a committee, Mr Whitby said he saw first hand the impact the choice would have on those affected.

The Parliamentary Committee investigated end of life choices, with the final report tabled in parliament on August 23.

The report “My Life, My Choice” – recommends that Western Australians with a terminal illness and who endure intolerable suffering should have access to the option of voluntary assisted dying.

“I believe that individuals should have the right to make this choice for themselves,” he said.

“Our committee heard from too many witnesses who had to watch their loved ones endure intolerable suffering before finally passing away.

“A lady from Baldivis grabbed my arm, and with tears welling in her eyes, pleaded with me to support this change, explaining how she had watched her husband die. It would be callous and inhumane to ignore her.

“Many West Australians choose to bravely cope with the suffering of terminal decline, whilst clinging to every last breath of life, to the very end. That is a valid choice. A choice to be respected. However, others who choose a different end of life should be just as entitled to their choice too.

“Personal convictions are personal. Everyone has a right to their own beliefs.

“No-one would dream of imposing assisted dying on someone who didn’t want it. What then, makes it acceptable to impose continued intolerable suffering at the end of life, on someone who doesn’t want it?

“Experience in other jurisdictions with similar laws like the ones proposed in our report, suggests that very few people would actually use this law.

“Of those who do, not all will actually take that final step. Experience overseas says many seek the option to choose, without ever making that choice.

“The right to choose becomes a comfort. An option, if needed. And they pass without having to decide on that final step.

“Our report also recommends ways to improve access to palliative care and improve the system of Advanced Health Directives to encourage people to think about their end of life choices with loved ones well before decisions have to be made.”

The report can be viewed in full at http://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/