My name is Richard Lawler. I have had personal experience as a carer for my wife, Patricia, for a period of about 10 years at our home in Hobart. She suffered from Parkinson’s disease for 20 years, as well as lung cancer, and a serious colon condition called Clostridium difficile. In the last 12 months of her life, Patricia required fulltime intensive carers, including myself, to feed, move, and bathe her. In the last six months, she lost the capacity to make serious life decisions for herself. My daughter and I made these decisions for her and for her day-to-day care.
Legalising assisted dying (suicide) was never a consideration as we both valued life and believe in a natural death. We were married for 60 years and Patricia had wonderful palliative care from her doctors and she never wanted any assistance to hasten her death. We both had and have a firm belief in letting our passing be natural and not accept euthanasia or assisted suicide.
After experiencing palliative care for Patricia, and having discussions with friends who were in a similar situation with their loved ones, it is clear that there is a need for more funding assistance for palliative care. It is particularly apparent in country areas like the east coast of Tasmania.
Elderly people, faced with serious illness, can become overwhelmed with navigating the health services available to them. Their ability to think clearly is often compromised as the aging process occurs. For this reason, it is all the more important that the elderly are not faced with the prospect of health professionals proposing euthanasia as a possibility. The elderly are vulnerable and must be protected and cared for. They deserve to be able to trust that their healthcare providers have the very best intentions for them at all times and not be proposing euthanasia, which they would never contemplate themselves.
I am certainly opposed to the End-of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020. My hope is that parliament rejects the bill, and more focus is put towards increased funding for palliative care, and the training of healthcare professionals in palliative care, especially in country areas.