The ACL has warned against moves by new WA Health Minister Roger Cook to advocate for state-sanctioned assisted suicide.

ACL WA director Dahlia Messiha said the community would be rightly concerned if efforts were directed at removing safeguards which seek to prevent state-sanctioned suicide. 

“Mr Cook claims there is a “growing demand” to allow for assisted suicide, however, many have expressed concerns regarding this issue, especially those who would be the most vulnerable to concerted efforts to remove current safeguards,” Ms Messiha said.

“The State Government has only just been appointed and already the health minister is advocating for euthanasia when palliative care provides better options.

“How this became the first health priority for WA is extremely unclear.

“The responsibility for the health minister should be to improve our hospitals and ensure better health care for the vulnerable by exploring palliative care options. 

“Euthanasia laws around the world have a track record of failing to protect vulnerable people being pressured to end their life,” Ms Messiha said.

“Research shows there is no such thing as ‘safe’ euthanasia legislation. As a community we need to send a clear signal to everyone requiring assistance, they are not better off dead but are valued human beings.

“Belgium and the Netherlands are held up as ‘best practice’ examples by euthanasia proponents, but over time so-called safeguards had been whittled away, and undue pressure has been placed on vulnerable people such as those with disabilities or the elderly” Ms Messiha said.

“While ACL understands and shares the desire to see people relieved of their pain, this can be better achieved by investing in better palliative care methods and technologies” Ms Messiha said.

“Many medical practitioners who specialise in end of life treatment agree that palliative care is a more prudent and ethical way of ensuring a dignified death than public policy which is open to abuse and which unwittingly or wittingly puts pressure on the ill and vulnerable to end their lives.”

ENDS