Judith was hospitalised 50 times, she'll soon know if she has the right to end her own life

Judith was hospitalised 50 times, she'll soon know if she has the right to end her own life

Euthanasia, Assisted Dying

17/09/2021 11:31:00 PM

Judith was hospitalised 50 times, she'll soon know if she has the right to end her own life

After a missed opportunity in 2017 for NSW to become the first state to legalise voluntary euthanasia, advocates are now pinning their hopes on a bill to be introduced in state parliament next month.

People with chronic illnesses, and others directly impacted by the bill, will be watching the debates closely.Sydney woman Judith Daley has been in-and-out of hospital over 50 times since being diagnosed with chronic inflammatory lung disease (COPD) 20 years ago and lung cancer years later.

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In Australia, voluntary assisted dying (VAD) has been legislated in five of the six states but is not legal in all of them. Here's where each state stands.Victoria — legalTasmania — commencing October 23, 2022South Australia — Late 2022 to early 2023

Queensland — January 1, 2023New South Wales — not legalThe 77-year-old from the inner-city Sydney suburb of Alexandria, and board member for Dying with Dignity NSW, has undergone radiotherapy treatment over 32 times and when doctors offered chemotherapy again, she declined. headtopics.com

"My oncologist said there was between 5 and 10 per cent chance that the chemotherapy would work," Ms Daley said."But there was between 10 and 20 per cent chance that I'd end up back in hospital. I don't like those odds so I've elected not to have it."

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Ms Daley said she didn't want to die but knows there may come a day where living would be "no longer tolerable"."At the moment, I don't want to die. I've had a wonderful life and I'm still very hopeful it can improve after the surgery I had in August," she said.

"But … I don't know when I'm suddenly going to get much worse and I want the control, to know that I can do something about that."Ms Daley is hopeful after having surgery, but knows her condition could worsen.()Voluntary euthanasia in Australia has overwhelming support within the community, according to several surveys.

A Roy Morgan poll commissioned by Dying with Dignity in 2017 found 87 per cent of Australians supported "letting patients die" if they were "hopelessly ill" or "experiencing unbelievable suffering".These figures were supported by a 2019 ABC Vote Compass survey which saw overwhelming support for euthanasia, regardless of political or religious affiliation. headtopics.com

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The Western Sydney electorates of Blaxland, McMahon and Parramatta were the least in favour of assisted dying, according to Vote Compass data.Mr McDermott, whose electorate of Prospect also crossesinto Sydney's west, said his constituents wrote to him regularly expressing opposition to VAD.

Labor's Hugh McDermott voted against the bill in 2017.(Supplied)"Despite what the pro-euthanasia groups are saying, there is significant resistance for these laws," he said.Like many in the debate, Mr McDermott's position was deeply personal. When his father was diagnosed with cancer, he had expressed a desire to be voluntarily euthanased.

"He lasted a couple of months and in that time he reconciled with many members of the family, he put his affairs in order," Mr McDermott said."He fought it through to the end."Ms Higson from Dying with Dignity, however, said person "deserves the right to a peaceful death".

"Another benefit is it would allow these people to not reach such a desperate stage and to be able to have an open and honest conversation with doctors and their families," she said.Dying with Dignity vice-president Shayne Higson outside NSW Parliament house calling for support on assisted dying. headtopics.com

(Supplied)State parliament has not sat since June due to the Delta outbreak and bill's sponsor, Mr Greenwich, has used this time to make further amendments.A revised bill is expected to have provisions not seen anywhere else in country including enhanced communication and support for aged care residents.

The Nationals MP who introduced the bill four years ago, Trevor Khan, said the passing of the bill would be "inevitable", if not this round then certainly the next."There's a lot of cross party support this time, but numbers are very hard to precisely gauge," Mr Khan said.

"I think it'll be close."

Read more: ABC News »

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