Spare them the pain

Wanneroo Weekender - - Front Page - Justin Bian­chini

FOR­MER WA Gov­er­nor and re­spected QC Mal­colm McCusker will draw on his own ex­pe­ri­ence of watch­ing friends die when he heads up a panel tasked with draw­ing up vol­un­tary as­sisted dy­ing law for the WA Par­lia­ment.

“I know of very few peo­ple who haven’t ei­ther di­rectly through a rel­a­tive or a friend or in­di­rectly be­cause they’ve heard of some­one else whose friend had a very slow and painful death,” he told ABC Ra­dio.

“A cou­ple of my close friends died years ago. One of them suf­fered from mo­tor neu­rone dis­ease and it lin­gered. The pain was just enor­mous. I think most peo­ple are com­pas­sion­ate and com­pas­sion means you don’t want to cause un­nec­es­sary pain.”

HOW many months would a ter­mi­nally ill pa­tient have to live be­fore they were el­i­gi­ble to seek help in dy­ing un­der any pro­posed WA vol­un­tary euthana­sia leg­is­la­tion?

Would the thresh­old be less than six months or – as in Vic­to­ria, the first Aus­tralian state to le­galise vol­un­tary as­sisted dy­ing – 12 months?

A time thresh­old will be one of the is­sues the Mal­colm McCusker QC-led ex­pert panel – ap­pointed this week – will pon­der as it sets about mak­ing rec­om­men­da­tions for leg­is­la­tion to go be­fore the WA Par­lia­ment.

“We haven’t as yet got to the point of say­ing well, within what pe­riod should a per­son be shown to have a prob­a­bil­ity or even a cer­tainty of death,” Mr McCusker told ABC Ra­dio.

“In some coun­tries and some places it’s been put at six months; that is, if a per­son is in­evitably go­ing to die or al­most cer­tainly ac­cord­ing to the views of some two, three or four doc­tors within six months, then this may be a thresh­old re­quire­ment to meet.

“But these are the kind of con­sid­er­a­tions we need to look at very closely.”

Pic­ture: Matt Jelonek www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d480544

Mal­colm McCusker with wife Tonya.

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