Dying with Dignity call for MPs to pass Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill

Wyong MP David Harris during Question Time in State Parliament

Anne Jones of Somersby is suffering from a terminal illness and has thrown her support behind Dying for Dignity NSW in urging State MPs to pass a Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) Bill expected to come before the NSW Parliament next month.

Jones has been diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), a rare neurological disease with some similarities to Parkinson’s disease and knows she won’t have the opportunity to see her four grandchildren grow to adulthood.

“My symptoms started with a heavy feeling in the left side of my forehead which affected my balance and made me feel like I was falling forward,” she said.

“It affects my eyesight so I can no longer drive or read easily.

“Keeping my balance is a problem now and I will lose the ability to walk.

“There is no treatment or medication for this disease and drugs that I’ve been prescribed in an attempt to  ease symptoms have all had adverse side effects, making me more unwell.

“The only medicine that assists with the nausea that I experience after every meal is known to exacerbate Parkinsonian symptoms.

And Jones says the worst is yet to come.

“My swallowing and breathing will deteriorate and I’ll need intervention to keep me alive.

“I am lucky to have reached 79, as it is more usual for victims to be diagnosed in their 50s and 60s.

“As Australia does not have adequate voluntary assisted dying (VAD) laws … I want to have a peaceful death in Switzerland with my loved ones present.

“But owing to COVID, it seems that (choice) may be denied me.

“I am begging all members of NSW parliament to pass adequate VAD laws so that anyone with a terminal illness can chose to die peacefully with their loved ones present.”

Dying with Dignity President, Penny Hackett, said if the bill is passed it will give terminally ill people in NSW the ability to avoid the extreme suffering many experience at the end of their lives, despite the best available medical care.

“Voluntary assisted dying law reform is supported by an overwhelming majority of the NSW community – with around 80 per cent in favour,” Hackett said.

“There are terminally ill people dying every week in NSW with incredible suffering, which cannot be relieved, even with optimal palliative care.

“This Bill would give dying people a chance to die peacefully, at a time of their choosing surrounded by their loved ones, without prolonged and futile suffering.

“Every other Australian state has already moved on this law reform with assisted dying laws already operating in Victoria and Western Australia, having passed in Tasmania and South Australia and soon to be debated in Queensland.

“It is a conservative Bill, with safeguards to protect both patients and the healthcare professionals who care for them.

“It is entirely voluntary for everyone involved and only the terminally ill person can request access.

“We hope that MPs remember their constituents’ views when considering this Bill, because there is overwhelming support for this reform in every single electorate in NSW.”

Media release, Jul 19
Dying with Dignity NSW