A controversial plan to legalise euthanasia by the Victorian Government has sparked debate amongs healthcare specialists.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced he backed the legislation last year and, if the laws pass, physician-assisted dying would be available to Victorian residents. This possibility has had care workers to medical professionals debating the pros and cons.
Personal care worker Amanda Arvanitakis believes euthanasia is controversial but that is an individual’s choice, just like any quality of care is at the end of one’s life.
“When my grandfather (Ralph Hagedorn) took his last breath four-months ago, the quality advanced health and palliative care program he received was vitally important and the system provided a respectful, dignified, pain-free and comfortable option at the end of his life when he needed it most,” she said.
Mr Hagedorn had been adventurous 16-year-old young man when he joined the navy and later served as a Merchant Navy Radar Operator during World War II, where he searched for landmines and fought for his country’s freedom.
At 90, all the years Mr Hagedorn worked on the naval ships exposed to asbestos took its toll on his lung condition and he was admitted to an advanced health and palliative care program.
“I remember Papa as a warm, kind and fun-loving man who adored his family and gave nothing but love and wonderful memories to his grandchildren, he was always a go-getter so when it came down to his final days, it was a relief to know that he was pain free and comfortable,” Ms Arvanitakis said.
Centre for Palliative Care at St Vincent’s Hospital Associate Professor Mark Boughey said the focus should be on developing and improving better palliative care and resources to empower hospitals and communities to engage and understand the benefits of this health service.
“Everyone benefits when they work hand-in-hand together, patients feel better, cope better, and live longer, but because there is variability across the system, there’s no reliability or consistency so the reality is that there needs to be a fundamental shift of how we think and practice,” he told Dscribe.
Associate Professor Boughey said there could possibly be a backlash from healthcare organisations if physician-assisted suicide were legalised, as the consideration corridor is small and narrow with a small percentage of people predicted to opt for the proposed new approach.
Opposition leader Matthew Guy does not support voluntary euthanasia and said the Government was using this legislation to distract the state’s current law and order problems.
“I worry that this issue is now going to occupy a lot of the Parliament’s time in the new year for an outcome that will not help the day to day lives of every Victorian,” he said.
If the new legislation were passed, 2019 would be the earliest this law would come into effect.