Euthanasia bill poses risks for disabled says Disability Commissioner


The Disability Commissioner and some people with disabilities say legalising euthanasia could lead to the erosion of rights for disabled people who choose to live.

Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero says David Seymour’s private member’s the End of Life Choice Bill, which was currently before the Justice Select Committee, undermined years of work to change perceptions of disabled people and posed significant risks to them.

Tesoriero said much of the discussion so far has centred around the Bill allowing people with a terminal illness to end their life on their own terms.

“Before we start talking about how disabled people can end their lives, we should be talking about how they can be supported to live their lives to their fullest potential,” she said.

Her key recommendations in regard to the Bill are:

  • The Bill should not be passed into law in its current form
  • The process and proposed safeguards outlined in the Bill are inadequate
  • The Bill does not protect the interests of disabled and vulnerable members of the community
  • It contains insufficient provisions and protections around the provision of appropriate information, informed consent, assessing capacity, and determining if undue influence or coercion exist
  • There was also no “cooling off” period
  • The oversight and approval mechanisms are inadequate

“It’s my role to reflect the concerns of the disability community and what I am hearing is that there are significant concerns about this Bill, particularly the inclusion of grievous and irremediable (but non-terminal) medical conditions,” Tesoriero said.

Kylee Black has already had end-of-life conversations with doctors.

The 31-year-old suffers from Ehlers Danlos Syndrome [EDS], a genetic connective-tissue disorder that is progressive and incurable.

Of greatest alarm to Black and the disability sector is the inclusion in the Bill of people with grievous and irremediable medical conditions.

Black is not alone when she says this term is ambiguous and vague, and opens disabled people up to pressure and even coercion to end their lives early.

“We have been in dark places, and I know for myself there is a high chance that I would not be here today if euthanasia was legalised earlier in my journey,” she said.


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