'It's About Choice': The Fight For Assisted Dying Laws In Western Australia
Dinny Lawrence's father died panicked and alone, without the choice of having a dignified death.
Twenty years ago, her father, who had suffered from severe asthma his entire life, made the decision to end his life as his disease took its toll, killing him slowly.
"He disconnected his nebuliser, the only thing keeping him alive," Lawrence told 10 daily.
"He had a severe asthma attack, and called for my mother.
"By the time my mother got to him, he had suffocated. He died panicked and alone."
The Western Australian government said on Monday it will table a bill to legalise assisted dying in the state, after recommendations handed down by a cross-party committee earlier this year.
For Lawrence, the campaign to legalise assisted dying is a personal one, as she believes it would have saved her father from a terrifying and lonely death, and she has since joined advocacy group Dying With Dignity WA as its campaign manager.
The organisations mission is not to force a decision between life and death, but rather allow people to have a choice in how they die Lawrence said.
Lawrence is not alone in her fight for legalising assisted dying, with 88 percent of Western Australians supporting the move.
"There is evidence that people kill themselves, in often violent ways, before they lose the capacity to choose when they die," she said.
Dying with Dignity supports the stringent criteria on those who would be able to access assisted dying under the proposed legislation.
If passed, the legislation will require the illness be terminal, and must be approved by two independent doctors before the lethal medicine is given out. The person must have full mental capacity. It is then the choice of when and where the person ends their life.
READ MORE: WA Government To Introduce Euthanasia Bill
Having the ability to choose when or how they die can bring often bring comfort, and even give terminally ill people strength to hold on a little longer Lawrence said.
"Many will wait so they can see a wedding, or a child is born. Some don't even use it."
"We 100 percent support palliative care options, but this isn't the best option for some people. It's about protecting choice."
Victoria is the only state in Australia that has legalised assisted dying, although legislation does not come into effect until June next year.
The WA bill will be drafted by an 11-member expert panel and will be tabled by the McGowan government some time next year, where it will face a conscience vote.
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