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القراءة الثانية

استؤنف النقاش من 23 مارس 2022.

شوكت مسلماني – (10:17):  أقدم مساهمة قصيرة للمناقشة حول مشروع قانون المساعدة على الموت الطوعي لعام 2021 الذي اقترحه عضو سيدني، أليكس غرينتش.

مشروع القانون هو مشروع قانون مقدم من عضو خاص تمت إحالته إلى اللجنة الدائمة للقانون والعدالة للتحقيق وتقديم تقرير في 19 أكتوبر 2021.

تمت مناقشة مشروع القانون في الجمعية التشريعية في نوفمبر 2021 وتمت الموافقة عليه مع التعديلات من قبل الجمعية التشريعية في 26 نوفمبر 2021.

يسعى مشروع القانون إلى تمكين الأشخاص المؤهلين المصابين بمرض عضال من الحصول على مساعدة الموت الطوعي؛ وضع إجراء وتنظيم الوصول إلى المساعدة على الموت الطوعي؛ إنشاء مجلس المساعدة على الموت الطوعي؛ وتنص على تعيين أعضاء ومهام المجلس. من المحتمل أن يكون هذا القانون من أهم القوانين في المجتمع وفي هذا المجلس.  تحدثت آخر مرة عن هذه المسألة المتعلقة بالموت الطوعي في عام 2017. ومنذ ذلك الحين احتدم النقاش حيث تبنت الدول الأخرى المساعدة على الموت الطوعي. كرئيس للجنة الدائمة للقانون والعدالة، صاحب السمو.

وأشار ويس فانغ في مقدمته:أثار هذا الاستفسار اهتمامًا عامًا كبيرًا ومشاركة كبيرة ، حيث تلقت اللجنة حوالي 39000 رد على استبيان عبر الإنترنت ، بالإضافة إلى 3،070 طلبًا وثلاثة تقارير تكميلية، تم نشر 107 منها. كما عقدت اللجنة جلسات استماع علنية لمدة ثلاثة أيام ، واستمعت إلى أكثر من 75 شاهداً.

بينما لا يزال قيد المناقشة في نيو ساوث ويلز ، في غرب أستراليا، على سبيل المثال، التشريع يعمل بشكل كامل. توفي ما يقرب من 16 شخصًا شهريًا بمساعدة قانون الموت الطوعي لعام 2019 لتلك الولاية. ووفقًا لبيان صادر في 23 مارس 2022 ، أشارت وزيرة الصحة في غرب أستراليا، السيدة أ.ساندرسون ، إلى أنه اعتبارًا من 28 فبراير 2022، بعد ثمانية أشهر من المخطط، طلب 378 شخصًا الوصول إلى مساعدة الموت الطوعي. في حين أن البعض قيد التقييم لتحديد الأهلية، فقد أكمل 125 شخصًا عملية الموت الطوعي بمساعدة. إنها بالفعل عملية سريعة للغاية.  في ضوء ذلك، يجب أن نتعامل بحذر عند اتخاذ قراراتنا بشأن مسألة الحياة والموت هذه – المساعدة على الموت الطوعي مقابل الرعاية التلطيفية.

نظرًا لحساسية القضية للانقسام ، اختارت اللجنة الدائمة للقانون والعدالة عدم اتخاذ موقف بشأن مشروع القانون. لقد ترك القرار لنا في هذه القاعة. أعتقد بصدق أن جميع أعضاء هذا المجلس المحترمين وفي المكان الآخر يأتون إلى هذه القضية بتعاطف وحزن كبيرين على أولئك الذين يعانون من التشخيص والألم والمعاناة التي تهدد حياتهم. سيعاني معظمنا من الألم مع اقترابنا من نهاية الحياة.

الحياة والموت، كما هو واضح، خارجة عن سيطرتنا. لكن في هذا النقاش، لا أرى أي شخص مخطئ أو محق تماما. إنها مسألة إيمان لدى البعض ومسألة ضمير للآخرين. يجادل أولئك الذين يعارضون مشروع القانون بأنه إدخال تغيير جوهري على القانون الجنائي والطريقة التي يقدّر بها المجتمع كل حياة بشرية؛ أنه سيقوض جهود منع الانتحار. هناك احتمال لسوء المعاملة والإكراه الذي يشكل خطرًا غير مقبول على الأشخاص المستضعفين، بما في ذلك كبار السن والمصابون بأمراض عقلية وذوي الإعاقة؛ أنه سيكون له تأثير ضار على شعوب الأمم الأولى؛ مخاوف بين مهنة الطب وخطر الأخطاء الطبية ؛ عدم الوصول إلى الرعاية التلطيفية؛ مطلوب القتل الرحيم والمساعدة على الانتحار للشعور بالعبء والوحدة؛ لا يمكن ضمان أي سم للتسبب في وفاة سريعة وسلمية وإنسانية؛ مخاوف بشأن الزيادة المحتملة في عدد الوفيات بموجب القانون؛ وفقا لما يمليه الضمير ، الفردي والمؤسسي، ومرافق رعاية المسنين والرعاية الصحية السكنية ؛ المعارضة الدينية العامة VAD ؛ وخطر توسيع لمعايير الأهلية.

كما يجادلون بأن خطر إساءة الاستخدام الذي يحدث داخل المخطط المقترح في مشروع القانون مرتفع للغاية، وبالتالي، لا ينبغي تمرير التشريع. وهم يجادلون بأن هناك احتمالية كبيرة لحدوث إساءة معاملة كبار السن والإكراه في مخططات الموت الطوعي بمساعدة الموت بشكل عام، حيث أن هذه المخاطر متأصلة في تشغيل المخططات وأن المخطط المحدد المقترح في مشروع القانون لا يحتوي على ضمانات.

رابط مختصر https://arabsaustralia.com/?p=22846

My contribution on

VOLUNTARY ASSISTED DYING BILL 2021
Conscience vote. Final vote when parliament returns in May.
Second Reading Debate

Debate resumed from 23 March 2022.

The Hon. SHAOQUETT MOSELMANE (10:17): I make a short contribution to debate on the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 proposed by the member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich. The bill is a private member’s bill that was referred to the Standing Committee on Law and Justice for inquiry and report on 19 October 2021. The bill was debated in the Legislative Assembly in November 2021 and was passed with amendments by the Legislative Assembly on 26 November 2021.
The bill seeks to enable eligible persons with a terminal illness to access voluntary assisted dying; establish a procedure for and regulate access to voluntary assisted dying; establish the Voluntary Assisted Dying Board; and provide for the appointment of members and functions of the board. This bill is probably one of the most significant in the community and in this House. I note that I last spoke on this issue of voluntary assisted dying in 2017. Since then the debate has intensified as other States have adopted voluntary assisted dying. As the Chair of the Standing Committee on Law and Justice, the Hon. Wes Fang, noted in his foreword:
This inquiry generated significant public interest and engagement, with the committee receiving around 39,000 responses to an online questionnaire, in addition to 3,070 submissions and three supplementary submissions, of which 107 were published. The committee also held three days of public hearings, hearing from over 75 witnesses.
While it is still being debated in New South Wales, in Western Australia, for instance, the legislation is in full operation. Almost 16 people per month have died assisted under that State’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2019. According to a statement on 23 March 2022, the Western Australian health Minister, Ms A. Sanderson, noted that as of 28 February 2022, eight months into the scheme, 378 people have requested access to voluntary assisted dying. While some are under assessment to determine eligibility, 125 people have completed the voluntary assisted dying process. It is a very expeditious process indeed. In light of that, we should tread carefully when making our decisions on this question of life and death—voluntary assisted dying versus palliative care.
Sensitive to the divisiveness of the issue, the Standing Committee on Law and Justice elected not to take a position on the bill. It left the decision for us to make in this Chamber. I sincerely believe that all honourable members of this House and in the other place come to this issue with great empathy and sadness for those experiencing life-threating diagnosis, pain and suffering. Most of us will go through pain as we edge closer to the end of life. Life and death are, to state the obvious, beyond our control. In this debate, however, I do not see anyone wrong or completely right. It is a matter of faith to some and a matter of conscience to others. Those who oppose the bill argue that it would:
… introduce a fundamental change to the criminal law and to the way society values every human life; that it would undermine efforts to prevent suicide; there is potential for abuse and coercion that poses an unacceptable risk to vulnerable people, including the elderly, those with mental illness and people with disability; that it would have an adverse impact on First Nations people; concerns amongst the medical profession and the risk of medical errors; lack of access to palliative care; euthanasia and assistance to suicide requested for feeling a burden and for loneliness; no poison can be guaranteed to cause a rapid, peaceful and humane death; concerns about the likely increase in the number of deaths under the bill; conscientious objection, both individual and institutional, and residential aged care and health care facilities; general religious opposition to VAD; and the risk of eligibility criteria being expanded.
They further argue that the risk of abuse occurring within the scheme proposed in the bill is too high and, consequently, the legislation should not be passed. They argue that there is a high likelihood of elder abuse and coercion occurring in voluntary assisted dying schemes generally, as those risks are inherent to the operation of the schemes and that the specific scheme proposed in the bill does not contain sufficient safeguards. A number of religious leaders and organisations put on record their opposition to the bill and to voluntary assisted dying more generally in their contribution to the Standing Committee on Law and Justice inquiry. For instance, Archbishop Fisher told the committee:
Legalising euthanasia and assisted suicide will be a radical departure from one of the foundational principles of our society. It confirms in law that some people are regarded as better off dead and that our legal system, health professionals and care institutions will help to make them dead. These laws separate us into two classes of people: those whose lives are considered sacred and whose deaths we invest heavily in preventing, and those who are considered dispensable and whose deaths we invest in assisting.
In summary, the committee heard from church leaders of their opposition to any attempt to legalise euthanasia or assisted suicide in this State. They argued:
Our position is based not only on religious beliefs but also upon the desire to protect the most vulnerable in our society.
Similarly, His Eminence the Grand Mufti of Australia put the following evidence to the committee:
Life and death is not left to an individual to choose when they were born nor when they die. No human being in history has ever chosen the day or circumstances surrounding their birth, when they were born, or the circumstances in and around that. No person chose how compassionate or dignified their birth could have ever been. Therefore, it is understood that life is a gift given by God to human beings and none can withdraw it from the human, save God alone. Similarly, death is a defined decree, with no human being able to intervene to determine its when.
These are just some examples of the religious perspective on voluntary assisted dying that the committee’s inquiry heard. Those arguing in support of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 maintain that the support for the bill includes evidence of schemes operating effectively in the jurisdictions where it is law, ensuring personal dignity and avoiding suffering for people with terminal illness. The committee heard evidence about the immense suffering and pain experienced by some people with a terminal illness before they die. Some stakeholders gave firsthand accounts of the experiences of their loved ones and made the argument that being forced to suffer in an extremely painful way is cruel and unnecessary. They stated that introducing voluntary assisted dying is an effective way of addressing that issue, as it provides an alternative option in end-of-life care for those experiencing unbearable suffering as a result of a terminal illness. That argument was summarised by Dr Robert Marr, OAM, vice-president of the Doctors Reform Society, who explained the circumstances in which VAD would be accessed:
We are really talking about when people have terminal illnesses that are definitely going to kill them and we pretty much know how it is going to kill them in not a pleasant way. We are empowering these terminally ill people to choose for themselves how much suffering they want to endure. We will offer them the best palliative care. We can pretty much ease most pain—not all pain, I know; we cannot ease all suffering.
In that context, the committee heard from a number of supporters of the bill who explained the severe physical, emotional, spiritual and existential pain they had seen their loved ones endure in the last stages of their life. Ms Shayne Higson recounted the experience of her mother, Jan, who died from brain cancer in 2012. Ms Higson said:
When mum died in late 2012 there was no law to provide her with a more compassionate end-of- life option, so she was forced to endure the terrible end stages of that dreadful disease and we, her loved ones, were forced to watch on, powerless and traumatised.
I feel for them and express my sympathies to their families. I have seen a cousin of mine die of stomach cancer, with excruciating pain. To this important debate, we bring our own personal experiences, knowledge and what we and our loved ones have endured throughout our lives with regard to illness, pain and suffering. With my own family, I nursed and supported my late mother. I also experienced the trauma of seeing my late father-in-law battle a slow death.
As I stated in this place back in 2017, the fundamentals of our democratic system of government are to protect, sustain and ultimately improve life. I maintain that we, as elected representatives, have a duty to ensure the utmost respect for the individual and human life. Decisions made about human life cannot and never should be outsourced to people who operate under systems that are designed to produce an administrative outcome. I can foresee that in cutting costs lives may also be cut in the process. From my own personal experience, I believe those who are the weakest in our society—those who are old and frail—are the most vulnerable.
I put on record that I have nothing but respect and admiration for doctors, nurses and specialists. They perform their roles with eminence and due care. While I acknowledge the efforts of the member for Sydney to include checks and balances in his proposed bill, I must continue to argue that we can never hand life over to the system. My family never handed my mum’s welfare to the system, and we will never hand my dad’s welfare to the system. I will repeat what I have stated in this place before: Life is not a commodity that we can simply discard; it must not be dispensed with. Once that happens, we are all then on a roll downhill to misery. I understand that there are those who suffer who ought not to. As a matter of conscience, protecting life must be at all costs. We spend most of our time in this place attempting to improve life. This bill terminates it.
No new evidence has come before me that so persuades me to change my view and opposition to the proposal. That is especially so, given my experiences at St George Hospital when my mother’s health began to slip away.
The doctors and nurses were angels around Mum. However, things went sour when the management stepped in and called for a meeting. The management was no longer the doctor and the nurse looking at my mum as a patient. The management began to look at Mum as a burden that needed to be removed from hospital and placed elsewhere. The intention is to minimise costs and make space.
Our instinct as legislators, whether or not we know it and whether or not we achieve it, is to create laws that we think will, in some shape or form, make life better for people. In some cases, such as when debating the chronic underfunding of our State’s public hospitals or the ongoing need for more frontline police, we even seek to protect, preserve or prolong life. We must always govern with regulations to protect the lives of the most vulnerable from the unintended consequences of pure market-based economic policy decisions. As I think all honourable members know, there is no regulation, no law, no government intervention and no safeguard that can be put in place that cannot be transgressed.
I do not trust decisions of the State. Life should not be easily disposed of. Living life with dignity means allowing life to end with dignity. In my view, that is why there needs to be far more focus and spending on palliative care. More money and resources should be put into palliative care as a real alternative to easing the pain and the suffering that pushes the patient to seek an end to their life. I conclude by noting that we have a duty to ensure the utmost respect for life; that respect must never be dispensed with. Society is measured by the way it treats its elderly, poor and sick. We should never lose sight of that. I cannot support the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021.

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