Catholic Health Australia is urging members of the NSW Parliament’s Upper House to address the deep concerns its hospital and aged care members have around the Bill and put in place safeguards to protect the vulnerable when it debates the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill in the coming weeks.
Almost all amendments, including those that protect against coercion and assess decision making capacity were voted down in the Legislative Assembly at the end of last year.
Earlier this week an Upper House committee recommended the Bill proceed unaltered, though there were a number of Committee members voicing their concerns.
CHA’s Director of Mission and Strategy Brigid Meney said the Upper House of the NSW Parliament must scrutinise the Bill carefully and amend it accordingly when it comes before them in late March.
Ms Meney said CHA members remain opposed to the Bill but if the Parliament sees fit to pass into it law then we have a duty to ensure the rights of individuals and institutions are protected.
“In the Parliament’s rush to push the Bill through the lower house at the end of the last sitting year virtually all amendments were quashed. This is deeply concerning, as the existing Bill fails to consider the practical implications of VAD in the real world.
“The Bill that will be presented to the Upper House loosely recognises the risks to the vulnerable, but fails to set out how the law will protect those from being coerced into ending their life.
“There are no provisions contained within the Bill that allow organisations with a sincere opposition to some of these gaping holes, to object to providing this service.
“This will have a profound impact on the culture of care that Catholic services administer, affecting the end-of-life experiences of all who choose to receive care within a Catholic hospital, aged care or palliative care facility based on the mission and values that underpin their practices.
“The lack of robust safeguards in this Bill to protect the vulnerable, or those who do not wish to participate in this culture, are startlingly obvious. The Bill that will be presented to the Upper House does not measure up and gives rise for deep concern.”
With thanks to Catholic Health Australia.