Fears voluntary euthanasia laws will make older people more vulnerable to elder abuse
Will voluntary euthanasia laws make older people more vulnerable to elder abuse? It’s a question which raises the sort of difficult topics you’re not supposed to debate in polite company, like death and politics.
But it’s a topical one as increasing numbers of state governments create or investigate voluntary euthanasia laws.
People working with older Australians say there is the potential for elderly people to be exploited, but politicians can reduce that risk drama
tically by designing laws with adequate safeguards to protect the vulnerable.
Perth GP Scott Blackwell and nurse practitioner Shannon Tassell are no strangers to end-of-life issues, caring for more than 1,000 patients in nursing homes across the metropolitan area.
Dr Blackwell says there is a generation of elderly patients who could be vulnerable because they don’t want to be a burden on their family.
“In our practice we see elder abuse occurring in residential aged care,” he said.
“So, yes, there is potential then that if voluntary euthanasia legislation comes into being that people could, if you like, be headed in that direction without really wanting to go there.”
Dr Blackwell is a former WA president of the Australian Medical Association, so he has an understanding of how laws are really made.
He said it was up to politicians to put in the right checks and balances in voluntary euthanasia legislation to protect vulnerable people.
But he is concerned about the “horse trading” required to get any potential legislation through WA’s fractured Upper House.
“There are words that are there to keep a certain group happy and so that the legislation will go through,” he says.
“That’s what’s wrong with the legislation in the end — the process by which you get there.”
Originally Published by ABC News, continue reading here.