The DWDACT submission to the Australian Capital Territory’s Legislative Assembly Select Committee on End of Life Choices
The options for end of life care are becoming increasingly important to the ACT community. At this free event, hosted by the ACT Law Society and sponsored by the ANU College of Law, a panel of experts will examine the choices and decisions for palliative care currently available to residents of the ACT, and look ahead to the future of end of life care and the legal and medical implications of change.
Frances Coombes, President of SAVES (South Australian Voluntary Euthanasia Society), spoke to the DWDACT November 2016 General Meeting about the process of making changes to legislation to allow people to access assistance to die. She presented a brief history of the drive for law reform in SA, and on giving advice on effective means of promoting such reform – persistence, engaging with the public, respectful dialogue and involvement in the political process.
At the World Federation Conference held in Amsterdam in May this year Dying with Dignity ACT Inc. president compared the ACT Crimes Act legislation with the ACT Human Rights Act legislation to show that the Crimes Act legislation discriminates against those people who wish to die. While it is legal to end one’s own life, the law forces people who wish to make this legal choice into hanging, gassing, drowning themselves as well as retaining the discriminatory language associated with the choice by continuing to call their choice ‘suicide’ and them ‘suicides’.
She has proposed that we need new language to discuss the choice to die. She proposes to call this choice an Elective Death and outlines in the speech following how it would work in practice to make a choice for death that would alleviate the suffering of those who make this choice and those who are forced to endure the long slow process of dying that is forced on us all by the law because politicians refuse to consider any alternative.
The response from the ACT Human Rights Commission on the submission made by Dying With Dignity ACT on our human rights and an elective death.