Victorian parliament to consider telehealth in voluntary euthanasia laws

L-R: Hugh Sarjeant (DWDV President),
Stuart Grimley MP, Nick Carr, Journalist)

Laws currently prevent doctors and their patients from discussing euthanasia due to federal rules that prohibit people to “incite or counsel” another person to commit suicide through online communication. The laws were designed to tackle cyberbullying.

Advocates of Victoria’s euthanasia laws say voluntary assisted dying is not a form of suicide. 

Justice Party MP Stuart Grimley has introduced a private member’s bill to make it clear doctors who talk to their patients about voluntary euthanasia will not be prosecuted.

”We are seeking to tighten up that loophole,” Mr Grimley said. 

He also called on the federal laws to be amended.

A total of 465 applications have been made, 36 per cent of them are from country Victoria.

Doctors and advocates say this is in part due to the restrictions on telehealth. 

Only doctors that are comfortable and trained in the euthanasia scheme can participate, meaning patients might need to find the right doctor to suit their needs, which is harder in country areas.

The first meeting between a patient and their doctor regarding voluntary assisted dying still must remain an in-person consultation.

Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes, a “big supporter” of voluntary assisted dying laws, said the government had not yet looked at Mr Grimley’s proposal. 

“This is a very carefully crafted legislation designed to be one of the safest models in the world,” Ms Symes said.

“I wouldn’t want to suggest there is any plan to expand it dramatically, but making improvements is the reason that there is a review underway, in case there are issues that need to be addressed to ensure that the system is working as it was intended.”

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[Source: ABC News]

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