Assisted dying bill to be debated in the upper house

Should terminally ill patients have the right to end their own life?

MPs will on Thursday debate a private member’s bill devised by a cross-party working group that would create a law, supporters argue, containing some of the most stringent safeguards of any such legislation globally.

And around the region, there’s been strong opinions on both sides of the debate.

Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall launched a survey earlier this year which saw more than 1,000 responses in just two weeks.

“Sixty-three per cent of people support the introduction of the draft bill, with 28.9 per cent in opposition,” he said.

“While there is widespread support for the introduction of this bill, there are also many who would like to see the proposed rules for voluntary assisted dying changed, and many who oppose the idea entirely for a variety of reasons.”

Liberal MLC Scot MacDonald said he’s still on the fence.

“I’m interested in hearing people’s views,” he said.

Fairfax Media conducted a poll in September which revealed more than 64 per cent of people were against euthanasia for terminally ill patients.

More than 1,360 votes came in with the poll, that first appeared on The Leader.

To be eligible a patient must be at least 25 years old and suffering from a terminal illness from which they are expected to die within 12 months.

The decision must be signed off by two medical practitioners, including a specialist, and the patient assessed by an independent psychiatrist or psychologist.

There is a 48-hour cooling-off period, the patient may rescind the decision at any time and close relatives can challenge patient eligibility in the Supreme Court. A seven-person medical board would oversee all assisted deaths in NSW.

MPs will be given a conscience vote, but Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Opposition Leader Luke Foley have said they are opposed to the laws.

If passed, the bill will be referred to the lower house where its future is even more uncertain.

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