Dying with dignity

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Dear Inga ,

Right now there’s a brief window for real change on a new campaign before us, change capable of relieving unimaginable suffering for many Australians. Before we take any action, we’re looking to you, the members who make up the GetUp movement, for guidance on this important campaign.

Dying with dignity in the face of an unavoidable terminal illness and horrific suffering is something that many GetUp members have told us matters deeply to them.

Here’s the opportunity: there’s a bill about to be introduced into NSW State Parliament that would give patients the legal right to request a humane, medically-assisted death (voluntary euthanasia). This option includes robust legal safeguards and would only apply to individuals suffering from painful terminal illness.

Unfortunately we already know that too many Australians choose to end their suffering by the only legal means available to them. Options such as ending life support treatment, cutting off food and water or suiciding, often violently. These options are distressing, prolong suffering and cause further grief and anxiety. They can also push family, friends and medical support away when they’re needed most.

We would really like to hear from you regarding this important campaign. Please click here to take a few minutes to fill out a short survey to tell us your thoughts or share your personal story: www.getup.org.au/share-your-story

The most up-to-date polling shows that more than 80% of Australians support assisted dying where appropriate safeguards are in place. 1 For those who are faced with the choice to end their suffering on their own terms, it’s a difficult decision. In places such as Oregon in the United States (where assisted dying accounts for less than 1% of deaths) the knowledge that patients are able to end their suffering in the most dignified and controlled way possible has made provided great comfort to many approaching the end of their lives.

In researching and considering this campaign, we’ve heard from medical professionals, lawyers and academics about the critical safeguards in place, which will ensure people are capable of making the decision themselves and multiple doctors have affirmed their condition is indeed terminal.

We’ve heard from GetUp members who’ve been in that dire situation and their stories will stay with us forever. Stories like that of Gabrielle, who had to watch her mother die a slow and excruciating death from cancer at age 67, palliative care staff powerless to relieve her suffering.

We watched the video appeal from Angelique Flowers, who pleaded with then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to reconsider Australia’s assisted death laws before bowel cancer caused her horrific and unavoidable death, at just 31. We listened to members from all over the country about their experiences watching a loved one endure unimaginable suffering that can’t be cured, leaving them with no choice but to painfully wait for the inevitable. We have cried listening to their stories.

Now, we’re asking for your help, and your thoughts. While it’s something the majority of Australians support, and steps have already been taken in states and territories all over the country to change the laws, it’s here in NSW that a new bill stands the best chance of succeeding – if we decide to help politicians overcome the barriers. To do that, we need to bring this issue out of the shadows, summon the courage to talk about death openly and with compassion and launch a campaign with the support of the powerful GetUp movement that has the ability to bring about real change for the people who rely on our support.

We know your stories are powerful, and we honour and respect your views on this difficult subject. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts: www.getup.org.au/share-your-story

With gratitude,

The GetUp team

PS. If you’d rather not hear from us again on this issue, take the survey to share your thoughts, or reply to this email and let us know.

[1] Newspoll 2007, view here. GetUp is an independent, not-for-profit community campaigning group. We use new technology to empower Australians to have their say on important national issues. We receive no political party or government funding, and every campaign we run is entirely supported by voluntary donations. If you’d like to contribute to help fund GetUp’s work, please donate now! If you have trouble with any links in this email, please go directly to www.getup.org.au. To unsubscribe from GetUp, please click here. Authorised by Sam Mclean, Level 2, 104 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010.


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