It’s not un-Christian to support assisted dying

— Christian beliefs seem to underpin the views of many people opposed to assisted dying in the UK. As Prue Leith appears in an illuminating documentary about the practice for Channel 4, Kate Ng argues that allowing others to experience ‘good death’ is the most Christian thing you can do

Danny Kruger and Prue Leith in ‘Prue and Danny’s Death Road Trip’

My mother and I had a conversation about death recently. It wasn’t awkward or prolonged. In fact, it was a very brief exchange in the middle of a Christmas market in Germany while we waited for our bratwurst. “I think people live too long these days,” she told me. “I don’t want to live till I’m 100. And if I get sick, I don’t want to get to a point where it’s not worth living any more.” I agreed with her, we got our bratwurst, and went about our day.

I know many people will think this is morbid, but I’m glad that my mother and I are able to have casual conversations about death. Not because life isn’t precious, but because it’s too precious to dance around subjects like this. We all deserve a good death, just as we deserve good lives. Why not talk about it?

So when Prue Leith announced her new Channel 4 documentary about assisted dying, I was intrigued. Assisted dying, also known as assisted suicide, is defined by the NHS as the act of “deliberately assisting a person to kill themselves” and is illegal in the UK. The British Medical Journal says it is usually used in the context of “giving assistance to die to people with long-term progressive conditions and other people who are not dying, in addition to patients with a terminal illness”.

In short, if someone with a terminal illness or a condition that gets progressively worse wants to end their life, assisted dying would enable them to do so on their own terms. The alternative is to wait days, weeks, or even months to die. Leith argues that assisted dying is the most humane scenario here. I think she’s absolutely right about this.

However, Leith’s son Danny Kruger, the Tory MP for Devizes, strongly opposes his mother’s views. A staunch Christian, Kruger is the chair of the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) for dying well, which “promotes access to excellent care at end of life” and campaigns for better resources for hospice and palliative care services. This is an important and necessary cause. However, the group also “stands against the legalisation of doctor-assisted suicide in the UK”.

This puts Kruger head to head with his mother. Their documentary, Prue and Danny’s Death Road Trip, tackles this difficult discussion between mother and son, and sees them travelling across Canada – where assisted dying is legal – to speak to people who bolster both sides of their argument. At one point in the show, Leith hits the nail on the head when she asks her son if the root of his objection is because of his faith’s belief that “suffering is good for the soul”. Kruger replies: “I think suffering is part of life, but I don’t think we should suffer unnecessarily.” He doesn’t seem to grasp the irony of what he’s saying.

I would like the option to have a good death of my own choosing

Leith also points out that “a lot” of the APPG for dying well’s membership is made up of Christians, yet the individual members seem to avoid acknowledging the influence of their beliefs. They also seem to decline to admit that assisted dying goes against Christian beliefs. “Nobody would use that as their argument,” Kruger says in response. “We don’t go around saying, ‘God says don’t do this,’ I mean, that would be mad.”

But as long as assisted dying remains illegal in the UK, unnecessary suffering will continue. Perhaps he doesn’t want to believe it, but what Kruger is essentially saying – with all his religious bias – is that even if you’re already dying, you shouldn’t be given the choice to leave this mortal plane unless God decides it’s time for you to go.

As someone who grew up in a born-again Christian household, I know exactly how much Christians think suffering is crucial to the human experience. The idea is that the more you suffer in the name of God, the better your chances are of getting into heaven. So it’s hypocritical of Christians like Kruger to say they don’t think people should suffer unnecessarily.

The argument against assisted dying claims that legalising it would result in a “slippery slope that could lead to widespread abuse and distress” of vulnerable people. Members of the dying well group say that placing restrictions around who can access the service would not work, and the net would become wider and wider, even allowing people with no health conditions to qualify. Certainly, these are questions that need to be answered, and any policy drawn up should consider how vulnerable people will be protected. But, given that three-quarters of Britons support assisted dying for people who are terminally ill, MPs must begin having open and constructive conversations about changing the law.

I think about dying a lot. Not in a morbid or harmful way, but I think about how I want to die and what kind of memories I want to leave behind. And if it turns out that I should wind up with a terminal illness or a progressively chronic condition, then I would like the option to have a good death of my own choosing. I want my loved ones to remember me with joy, not with sadness or trauma at having watched me suffer till the end. It would be far more humane than any of “God’s work”.

Complete Article HERE!

Death by Poverty

— Canada’s Assisted Dying Program Exposes Fault Lines in Healthcare

Changes to Canada’s assisted dying program have garnered international controversy. New amendments extend access to assisted death to those with non-fatal conditions. These changes have resulted in dozens of patients applying to escape not illness, but poverty.

By Matthew Walters

Canada’s assisted dying program, known as MAiD (Medical Assistance in Dying), has become an object of international attention in the past few months. Last fall, dozens of stories came out about patients who applied for MAiD not because of sickness, but because of poverty. Disability activists have warned for years about the dangers of making death accessible while social services remain inaccessible. They were largely ignored. But now, this criticism is finding an echo among healthcare professionals and activists, as well as within the broader population.

The MAiD program was enacted in 2016 when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that it was unconstitutional to deny assisted suicide to persons with a foreseeable cause of death. This measure was welcomed by a large majority of Canadians, who saw it as giving greater autonomy to people facing the end of life and allowing for a compassionate option. But in 2021, the bill was controversially amended to drop several safeguards on access to MAiD, allowing for those whose deaths are “not naturally foreseeable,” qualifying everyone with “a serious illness, disease, or disability” to access MAiD with a separate set of requirements.

Canada’s image in the U.S., particularly among liberals, is of a country that is like America but with something like a welfare state. Unfortunately, this image is sharply divorced from the reality: social reforms earned in the past have been clawed back and gutted through decades of economic crisis combined with austerity, privatizations, and counter-reforms from neoliberal governments. Canada ranks lower on spending and service than most OECD countries and scores even lower than the U.S. on social spending. This austerity inevitably impacts the marginalized the most, One of the groups most victimized by austerity and privatization has been the disabled population.

Conditions for the disabled population in Canada are nightmarish: over 40 percent of disabled people live below the poverty line, and there is no province in Canada where disability pays above it. In the most populous province of the country, Ontario, disability is $1,228 CAD per month, while rent in Toronto averages at $2,500 CAD per month. Disabled people are also overwhelmingly represented in unemployment statistics, with 36 percent of those with a “long term condition or disability” reporting unemployment in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic. Disabled people were even cruelly denied from accessing the CERB program, which paid $2,000 a month — nearly twice what disabled people earn on assistance programs. As author Nora Loreto wrote:

Over the course of the pandemic, expanded MAiD was the most significant change in federal healthcare policy. There have been no permanent significant social supports established for disabled people, guaranteed income projects, financial supports or rent controls, or creation of new financing programs for assistive devices. Instead, the government has said: We will make it easier for you to choose to die, but we won’t give you what you need to have a fulfilling life.

Many stories have come out about people seeking MAiD who would have continued living if not for the circumstances poverty had created in their lives. A woman in Winnipeg received assisted suicide because, as her conditioned worsened, she could not afford the increasing costs of at-home care and the public system was no longer able to support her needs. She wrote to her loved ones in her obituary, “Ultimately it was not a genetic disease that took me out, it was a system.” Two women in Ontario, both with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), a condition in which one or several common chemicals create a severe, debilitating reaction, applied for MAiD after both fighting and failing to find accessible housing. One woman, Denise, said to the media that she applied to MAiD “because of abject poverty” while living on disability payments as well as her inability to gain accessible housing after seven years of applying. The other woman, Sophia, said in a video eight days before receiving MAiD that “the government sees me as expendable trash, a complainer, useless and a pain in the ass” after two years of attempting to access smoke- and chemical-free housing.

MCS as a condition is largely manageable; both women said that when they were not exposed to the triggering chemicals in their daily lives, they could function and live happy, healthy lives. They also would likely not have applied to MAiD if not for poverty and lack of access to the support systems they need. Rather than increasing the freedom and dignity of patients, MAiD has exposed the deep fault lines within Canadian social infrastructure. The system in place for these vulnerable patients is so inaccessible and underfunded that death becomes the preferable — and easier — choice. Effectively, MAiD has replaced access to public systems for the most “burdensome” patients. Critics say that the ambiguity and permissiveness of MAiD laws are encouraging this situation. Trudo Lemmens, a professor of health law and policy at the University of Toronto, argues that Canada’s laws have become the “most permissive in the world:”

In the context of medical assistance in dying, we’re getting rid of this idea that we will first try the least interventionist measures. There is no jurisdiction in the world other than Canada that frames this as just a medical intervention.

This framework has led to several disturbing cases, such as Roger Foley, a man with Degenerative Brain Disorder who was hospitalized in London, Ontario. He became so alarmed at how frequently he was being asked about euthanasia, he began recording the conversations. In one of these conversations, the hospital’s director of ethics mentioned while “discussing” MAiD with him that continuing his care to live would cost the hospital “north of $1,500 a day.” Defenders of MAiD will defend that the lack of regulations give autonomy to patients when, in reality, they only offer the choice of death while accepting that the choice to live is denied. As Lemmens stated in the same interview, “We’re basically sending the message that persons with disabilities who are not dying have an understandable reason to end their life. And this is discriminatory.”

In a concession to rapidly growing pressure from psychiatric and medical experts, the Canadian federal government delayed the expansion of MAiD to include those suffering from psychiatric illnesses until 2024. While it is a good thing that disability activists and experts were listened to, there is no amount of legal or ethical tinkering with legislation that can do away with the systemic discrimination against disabled and poor people built into the capitalist system. As the current crisis of social services across the whole of North America shows, without the proper resources needed to function, having a “right” to healthcare or welfare is just words on paper: the extra costs needed to accommodate the sick, poor, disabled, and marginalized groups through social spending are expendable. When a crisis hits and profits are threatened, these are the first costs to be cut. It is easier — and cheaper — for the capitalists to administer the right to death, framing it as “dignified dying” and “compassionate,” than providing funding for the right to live.

As socialists, we are not opposed to assisted suicide, which in the majority of cases is a dignified alternative to prolonged suffering. But as long as disabled people are denied the means to a dignified life where their needs are met by society, assisted suicide programs will inevitably be coercive and discriminatory. The only way to ensure that the right to death does not come at the expense of the right to life is through a universal, accessible, fully-funded healthcare system under the democratic control of the working class and inclusive of everything from disability to psychiatric illness. But the crisis of the capitalist system has shown the inability of this system to provide for the needs of society, pushing these services to the brink of destruction — it is only through the socialist reconstruction of society that the resources of the whole economy can be mobilized to meet the needs of all, rather than the private riches of a few wealthy capitalists.

Complete Article HERE!

Quebec organ donors increase threefold after ‘steep rise’ in donations from MAID patients

— The proportion of donors who chose MAiD increased by nearly 15 per cent last year, according to Transplant Québec.

The proportion of donors who chose MAiD increased by nearly 15 per cent last year, according to Transplant Québec.

By La Presse Canadienne

Quebec saw a record number of referrals for organ donations in 2022, including a significant increase in donations made in the context of “medical aid in dying” (MAiD) cases, according to the latest annual report from Transplant Québec.

The organization announced Wednesday that the proportion of donors who chose MAiD increased by nearly 15 per cent last year. Most of the cases involved patients who had a neurological or neurodegenerative disease.

Transplant Québec noted that the number of donations made in the context of MAiD has tripled over the past five years. About 10 per cent of cases of MAiD in Quebec represent potential donors, a proportion based on diagnoses compatible with organ donations, which translates to the equivalent of 366 donors.

“This is not only an opportunity to increase the number of organ donors in Quebec, but also an incredible opportunity to see more people benefit from a transplant,” Transplant Québec director Martine Bouchard said in a statement. “In addition to increasing the number of transplant recipients through the generosity of their gesture, these (donors) also gave meaning to their condition by allowing other lives to be saved.”

In total, Transplant Québec received 854 organ donation referrals in 2022 and 483 people received organ transplants. The organization noted that 78 lung transplants were carried, an “unmatched” number, for the second consecutive year.

More than 170 donors in Quebec allowed 584 transplants to be carried out.

The waiting times for lung or kidney transplants has shortened considerably over the past 10 years, according to the report. As of Dec. 31, 2022, 913 people were on Transplant Québec’s waiting list.

In proportion to their population, Montreal, Saguenay—Lac-St-Jean and the Eastern Townships are the regions with the highest number of potential donors, according to Transplant Québec.

Complete Article HERE!

My husband wanted assisted dying, but was denied.

— It’s only right people should have the option

Paul and Alain on their wedding day.

By Patrick Kelleher

In September 2019, Alain du Chemin was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

At the time, he was living with his partner of eight years, Paul Gazzard. The pair had met on Grindr in 2011 – Paul was such a novice to the app that he couldn’t get his profile picture the right way up, and Alain sent him a cheeky message saying he had neck ache from trying to look at his upside-down face.

“For some bizarre reason I thought it was hilarious, and we just got chatting, met up, and then the rest is history. Very quickly I moved in with him,” Paul recalls.

Their life together was a happy one, but after months of suffering with headaches and disorientation, Alain was told he had a tumour, and that it was terminal.

Paul (L) and Alain (R). They are sitting outdoors on a bench and both men are laughing.
Paul (L) and Alain (R).

He was a pragmatic person, Paul says, and immediately started researching his options.

“As he was reading more and more about what the end game might be, he discovered a lot of things – that people with brain tumours, towards the end, may not have all their faculties, can’t speak properly, can’t do a lot for themselves, become really confused, and so on. And he decided at that point that wasn’t really something he wanted to go through.

“That’s when he started looking into the whole assisted dying process and what it entails.”

Assisted dying describes the act of a terminally ill person being prescribed drugs, at their request, that end their life. A UK parliamentary briefing uses the term to cover instances where the patient self-administers the drugs, and where healthcare professionals administer them on request.

By that time, Alain was living back in Jersey, where he was from originally. The problem was that assisted dying was illegal there, as is the case in most European countries.

One of the few places where assisted dying is possible is Switzerland. Many people from across the world flock to the country so they can die on their own terms.

Paul and Alain on a plane on their wedding day. Both men are wearing tuxedos and the plane has been decorated.
Paul and Alain on a plane on their wedding day.

It took a while for Paul to realise just how serious Alain was about dying in Switzerland.

“He started saying, ‘I want it to be a celebration, I’d like to have certain close friends go with me, we’ll have a great party before I go off’. It was quite a lot to take in.

“Previously I had no view on assisted dying at all. I mean, thinking about it, why would you unless you or someone you loved were in that situation?

“You could tell he was absolutely adamant this was what he wanted to do… I think what I struggled most with was timing, really. When do you know now is the right time to go?”

‘Laws must change to a more humane model’

In order to undergo assisted dying, you must be considered competent to make that decision at the time of death. That presents specific challenges for people with terminal illnesses like brain tumours – for Alain, it meant he would have to die when he was still relatively healthy.

“He was fully supported by me, close friends, his family – we knew the sort of person he was and if he had something in his head, it was going to happen.”

While Alain explored his options, he and Paul worked on making the most of their time together. On Valentine’s Day 2021, they got married with around 20 guests in attendance.

Paul and Alain on their wedding day. they are pictured signing the marriage register in a registry office.
Paul and Alain on their wedding day.

Shortly afterwards, Alain’s condition started to deteriorate rapidly.

“At that time, I think he was feeling things were changing quite a bit, and the planning really had to be kicked up a bit,” says Paul.

“We have a friend who’s a pilot and he was able to get a private plane to take us to Switzerland, which was pretty much one of the only ways during that time [at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic] that we were going to be able to get there.”

The cost of hiring a private plane was going to be tens of thousands of pounds – and it caused “an enormous amount of stress”.

In the face of all those pressures, they ran out of time. Alain reached the point where he would no longer be considered competent enough to choose to undergo assisted dying.

On 1 May, 2021, Alain passed away in a hospice after a period of rapid deterioration.

Alain never had the chance to go through assisted dying – but Paul says he might have if the law was more humane.

Paul and Alain on their wedding day. They are both wearing suits and are standing on a red carpet outside a private jet.
Paul and Alain on their wedding day.

That’s why Paul is now a campaigner for better assisted dying laws. He’s working with Dignity in Dying, a campaign group that believes everybody should have the right to a good death.

YouGov polling shows there’s broad support in the UK for a change in the law. Three out of four people believe terminally ill adults should be allowed to choose when their lives draw to a close.

“It’s about choice,” Paul says.

“I think it’s only right people should have the option available to them.”

Complete Article HERE!

Dignity in death

— What is voluntary assisted dying

Voluntary assisted dying is a way to take control over death.

By Elissa Napier

Despite the taboo around VAD, the procedure has become legal in the majority of Australian states, allowing those who are suffering to breathe a sigh of relief as they seek to gain some control back in their life, and put dignity back into death.

Whether or not a person decides to access this service, Hall and Wiley said just knowing it’s available has helped to ease the mind of so many Australians.

What is voluntary assisted dying?

Voluntary assisted dying is a medical service offered to those who are eligible, to successfully end the suffering of someone in the late stages of a terminal illness by taking a prescribed substance to end their life on their terms, and as Wiley said, it’s all about choice.

Eligible people can choose if they want to administer the fatal substance themselves, or have a practitioner do it for them; they can choose when and where they’d like the event to take place, ensuring providing comfort and dignity in death.

VAD was kickstarted in Australia by broadcaster Andrew Denton, who watched his father suffer a “drawn out, desperate death”. Denton’s charity, Go Gentle, has played a major role in getting VAD laws passed in all Australian states.

So, what are the eligibility requirements?

A person must be:

  • diagnosed with an advanced disease or medical condition that will cause death within the next 12 months;
  • is suffering from intolerable levels of pain and discomfort;
  • is of sound mind to make the decision;
  • is acting voluntarily and without coercion;
  • is at least 18 years old;
  • an Australian citizen or permanent resident.

The process

Given the gravity of making the decision to undergo voluntary assisted dying, it’s not as simple as just asking for medication.

A person must make three request’s to a medical practitioner within the designated 9-day period. However, once a request is made, and right up until the administration of the fatal substance, there is no obligation for the person to follow through with VAD.

Once the first request has been made, a person will need to undergo a consulting assessment to ensure eligibility, and once the final request has been made, they will then need one final review before the official administration decision is made.

The assessments must be completed by two separate doctors who have received mandatory VAD training.

Source: Queensland Government

Whilst practitioners can refuse to participate based on conscientious objection, the doctor must still inform the patient of the process and provide other practitioners names who can assist; the same goes for religious facilities, they cannot stop or inhibit a practitioner from fulfilling their job at the request of a patient.

Once the process is completed, a touching detail to ensure dignity is maintained even after death, VAD will not be written as cause of death on a person’s death certificate; it will simply state the illness or medical condition the person was suffering from.

By allowing a dying person to take control of their death, dignity can be restored to its fullest.

Complete Article HERE!

Death with dignity is not euthanasia

By Kristen Fuller, MD

We are dedicated to helping our patients, but there are limits to what we can do to help.

A clinic patient of mine was dying of pancreatic cancer. He was as orange as a pumpkin and had an implantable morphine pump for pain. He was in palliative care and hospice, and regardless of medications to help alleviate his symptoms, he was miserable.

His suffering was unbearable. He wanted nothing more than to pass away sooner, in peace, and no longer be in pain.

“‘This is not living,’ he told me. ‘I am just waiting to die.’”
— Kristen Fuller, MD

He voluntarily stopped eating and drinking, refused a feeding tube, and eventually developed severe psychosis. I consulted with his medical team members about offering him “death with dignity,” but they were uncomfortable with this.

He passed away on day 12 by starving himself. His loved ones were beyond scarred by this experience.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the profound tragedy of people dying alone in hospitals, suffering and scared, without the comfort of their loved ones. The pandemic demonstrated modern medicine’s limits in relieving suffering and granting someone peace.

How can we best serve our patients in such situations?

Ways to help patients at the end

Medical aid in dying—also known as death with dignity—is the voluntary act (for both physician and patient) to help end the suffering of a mentally competent adult patient who is terminally ill with less than a 6-month life expectancy (hospice-eligible). The patient has the right to ask for a prescription medication they can self-ingest to die peacefully.

Individuals who want this end-of-life care option tend to be offended when it’s called “assisted suicide,” because they desperately want to live, but are going to die whether or not they utilize this avenue.

The Journal of Palliative Medicine published peer-reviewed clinical criteria for “physician aid in dying”—not assisted suicide.[1] The term “physician-assisted suicide” is archaic and stigmatizing to physicians and patients who have experienced death with dignity.[2]

In the US, death with dignity or medical aid in dying are explicitly distinguished from euthanasia.

Euthanasia, also called mercy killing, is administering a lethal medication by another human being to an incurably suffering patient.[3]

It may be voluntary (requested by the patient) or involuntary. Euthanasia is illegal in the US, but voluntary euthanasia is legal in Colombia, Belgium, Canada, and Luxembourg, and is decriminalized in the Netherlands.

History and guidelines

Medical aid in dying was first passed as legislation in Washington state in 2008, and has since become available for patients in Washington, DC, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

Multiple safeguards are in place to prevent cases of abuse or coercion.

The patient must be deemed competent, two physicians must authorize the medication, and there’s also usually a 15-day waiting period between the first and second doctor’s approval before a medication is authorized.

Suppose the patient chooses to take the medication after authorization. They can ingest the pills at their chosen time, choosing the manner and location of their death—one last act of control in the face of a debilitating illness.

What does the AMA say?

The AMA adopted a neutral position on death with dignity in 2019, affirming for the first time that “physicians can provide medical aid in dying according to the dictates of their conscience without violating their professional obligations.”[4]

The Association stipulated that physicians who participate in medical aid in dying adhere to professional and ethical obligations, as do physicians who decline to participate.

Other well-known national medical associations that have taken a neutral stance on death with dignity by withdrawing their opposition to the practice include the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, and the American Academy of Neurology.

Empowering patients

According to the Oregon Health Authority, approximately one-third of patients who receive prescription medication to pursue death with dignity in Oregon do not take the medication.[5]

However, they are said to be relieved that they are in control at the end of their life, which helps alleviate some anxiety about potential suffering in their last days. Each patient should be empowered to make end-of-life care decisions based on their unique culture, beliefs, and spiritual values.

“The power should be in the patient’s hands.”
— Kristen Fuller, MD

Hopefully, we can be conduits to give our patients respect, autonomy, and privacy during their last days.

Complete Article HERE!

Why some people with euthanasia drugs do not take the fatal dose

Sue Parker (left), before her death, with her daughter Nicole Lee.

by Stephen Brook

When pharmacists delivered Sue Parker a small safe containing the prescribed substance that would end her life, her spirits changed “100 per cent”.

“She went from being down and depressed and upset … her mood just lifted,” her daughter Nicole Lee said.

“She just smiled instantly and thanked them and wanted champagne for everyone.”

Parker, a nurse who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, is not the only voluntary assisted dying applicant to get a lift after her application succeeded.

Yet hundreds of people who qualify for the medication have not used it.

In the first three years of the scheme, 1035 people were issued permits for the prescribed medication.

The substance was dispensed to 849 people, but only 604 permit-holders took it.

“Having some control of the dying process may lift psychological and general health,” said Julian Gardner, chairperson of the voluntary assisted dying review board.

“For many people, having access to medication gives them the option to exercise their autonomy and die on their own terms. Some of those people choose not to have the medicine dispensed and some have the medication and choose not to take it. We know from feedback they do receive comfort from that.”

However, for some, the medication comes too late, he said. “By the time they receive the permit and then request the medication to be dispensed they may have died. They have just left it too late in the process.”

After applicants gain approval, they must have the medication dispensed, and the only pharmacy legally allowed to dispense the medicine is at The Alfred hospital.

“You can’t measure the success of the program solely by the number of people who take the medication and die. There are a significant number of people – up to 30 per cent – who receive the medication, and benefit from having control, but don’t use it,” Gardner said.

Parker, from Ballarat, had always expressed a wish to die on the 28th. It was the date that her parents married and had both died.

“From the minute she was diagnosed she knew [from] being a nurse she was able to get the VAD. Unless you ask, you don’t get told,” Lee said.

Nicole Lee sitting in her late mother’s bedroom on Saturday afternoon.
Nicole Lee sitting in her late mother’s bedroom on Saturday afternoon.

The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act, which in June will have operated for four years in Victoria and will be reviewed by Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas, includes 68 safeguards and requires multiple approvals.

“The process was so long and so stressful, I reckon it took away more of her life,” Lee said.

“Instead of being able to live she had to spend six months applying, with lots of forms and driving all over the state. The stress of thinking that she wouldn’t get it took away more of her life.

“Doctors have this thing that they are here to save lives not end lives.”

But Parker’s GP did the voluntary assisted dying course to help Parker in the application process, which can take weeks in some cases and months in others.

Voluntary assisted dying is also legal in Tasmania, Western Australia, and Queensland and commences at the end of the month in South Australia and in New South Wales in November. It remains illegal in the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory.

Gardner spoke out against the federal law that blocks doctors from discussing voluntary assisted dying on a telehealth appointment. It is illegal to discuss or advise about it by telephone, email or text.

“People at the end of life often have mobility issues. It is causing distress, and we have called for change,” he said.

Gardner said state laws meant that doctors in Victoria and South Australia could not initiate conversations about voluntary assisted dying. And to qualify for the scheme, patients must be a resident in Victoria for 12 months, which he said would be outdated when the process was legal in all states.

Parker, who lived with Lee, waited about six months after her successful application before taking the medicine.

“Her attitude towards the end of [her] life improved. It didn’t help the disease, but she felt relieved that she could die when she wanted to, how she wanted to and where she wanted to. She could die on her own terms,” Lee said.

Parker died on November 28 at home, and after her granddaughter had finished her exams.

“People don’t know what happens once you drink the medicine on your final day. It was so unbelievably peaceful, it was pure bliss,” Lee said.

“She lay there and slowly fell asleep and from there her heart rate slowed down until it stopped. Her passing was so tranquil.

“That is what this medicine does to you, it just puts you to sleep. It is a really nice way to die if you have to die.”

Complete Article HERE!