Formerly known as Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Euthanasia

Tag: Voluntary Assisted Dying (Page 1 of 4)

ACT Passes Voluntary Assisted Dying

All smiles as Tara Cheyne’s Progressive Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill passes in the ACT.

The Legislative Assembly voted overwhelmingly to support the law 20 votes to 5 votes, 80%, which is remarkably close to the level of community support for VAD in Australia.

What a historical moment today and the culmination of a decades-long fight for compassionate end of life choice. The content of the ACT bill gives the other states something to aim for in future reviews of their legislation. Only the Northern Territory to go. It is rather ironic that the Northern Territory were the first to pass VAD legislation with their Rights of the Terminally Ill bill way back in 1995. This bill was overturned by the Howard Government soon after.
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A Completed Life – Dr Rodney Syme

This book presents Dr Syme’s views on the plight of people with dementia, and his suggestion for further legislative change. The book’s title reflects a life that has been long, and where all that was possible has been achieved – and so is in a sense ‘complete’. There follows consideration of the problems that may follow, and what may be a reasonable response.

I was privileged to be one of the people asked to review this book prior to publication and I can thoroughly recommend it.

You can order your copy from

Ian Wood

Bowral, Continue reading

Annual Newsletter and Update April 2023

In this 2022/2023 Newsletter we celebrate the passing of Voluntary Assisted Dying Legislation in every Australian State with New South Wales, the final state passing their VAD bill in May 2022. Importantly, as I write this letter the VAD legislation is now active in 5 states with NSW set to join them 28th Nov 2023. Time and again people report the peace of mind that getting the green light to access VAD gives them. Family often describe the passing of their loved one as peaceful and even beautiful.

Photo: DWD NSW

Persistent lobbying by state Dying with Dignity Groups, Andrew Denton (listen to this excellent interview and his Go Gentle Australia team, along with our group, and individuals,culminated in this incredible progress, in the last five years.My late friend and mentor Rev. Trevor Bensch would have been delighted at this progress – something that we have been working for since we co-founded the group in February 2009. I sincerely thank all members of our group who contacted MP’s, wrote letters, signed petitions, made donations etc.

The Australian Capital Territory recently called for submissions to help develop their guidelines for a proposed VAD bill and it appears this could be debated this year. Interestingly the ACT are looking to have a point of difference and hopefully it will overall be a better model by combining the better points of each state VAD act. I have made a submission to ACT on behalf of our group.The Northern Territory disappointingly has said they will not discuss a new bill until after their next election.

Victoria and Western Australia will be reviewing their VAD laws this year. It is hoped that the new federal government which is more sympathetic to VAD legislation will review the restriction on telehealth access, and move to cover VAD services by medicare benefits.

Overseas. Austria’s VAD law is now in effect. Canada is considering an in depth report to improve their law MAiD as the VAD law is known as in Canada. Ireland & Scotland and UK have not progressed since last year . A number of USA states are considering legislation in addition to the 11 States and territories that have VAD access. Portugal are trying to get their legislation finalised. France is due to present a report by the end of the year following overwhelming support by the French Citizens’ Council.

Sadly Church hierarchy, for example, the Catholic Diocese of Sydney and some conservative “liberal” politicians continue not to accept the social change of VAD and are actively trying to reverse the legislative progress, despite 3 out of 4 Catholics supporting VAD as a compassionate end-of-life Choice. For example, Monica Doumit published a call to arms in the Catholic Weekly. I made a detailed response to the fears, lies and distortions she had in this article but the Catholic Weekly refused to publish this response even though we offered to have it in a paid advert. If a reader would like a copy of this response please contact me via our website. Because of this continued opposition and the need to have the laws passed in the territories, it is hoped that you will continue to be a member of our group.

It is hoped that the recent Advance Care Planning week has made people more aware of the need for a comprehensive Advance Care Directive particularly in respect to stating wishes should dementia become an issue. PLEASE discuss your end of life wishes with your family, and appoint a person to speak on your behalf if you are unable to do so.

Despite experiencing severe ill health my desire to advocate for VAD continues. Best wishes, Ian

Christian Response to the Catholic Weekly Article by Monica Doumit, Dec 2022

We have read Ms Monica Doumit’s article: “A fight well worth picking”, Catholic Weekly Dec 13, 2022,  and wish to record our strong disagreement with her on the issue of Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD).

The Catholic and Anglican Churches have been the main stumbling blocks preventing Democracy from being fully realised in Australia for the past 25 years.  The vast majority of Australians, well over 70% according to many years of Newspolls, have resoundingly supported the introduction of VAD for the very small proportion of terminally-ill patients who consider their suffering to be intolerable, and for whom our excellent Palliative Care Hospices cannot adequately alleviate their pain and suffering.

This vast majority includes Roman Catholics, Anglicans and other denominations.  Anybody who has seen a family member or friend suffer horribly at the end of life must surely be moved by love and compassion to want such suffering to end mercifully quickly.  We don’t for a minute believe that our loving God wants a small number of people to die in agony, whilst the vast majority (including evil people) die relatively peacefully.  Ms Doumit disagrees, and believes that the dogma of the Catholic faith requires that a small proportion of people should suffer. Where is love?  Where is compassion?

Ms Doumit uses language which is both emotive and misleading. VAD is not legalised killing and it is not suicide as she asserts.  The use of the word suicide should be limited to the deliberate and conscious attempt to kill oneself, when otherwise not terminally ill.  The most common causes of suicide are a result of relationship difficulties and/or mental illness (not necessarily depression – it might be bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia etc) and/or substance abuse. There are other explanations given by persons attempting suicide, including a desire for relief from extreme pain, and anniversaries of past losses.  Suicide may either be completed or attempted. The action would normally cause extreme anguish and grief to the bereaved family and friends. With appropriate intervention, it is possible that a suicide can be prevented and the person may go on to live a happy and purposeful life…  By contrast, those patients who qualify for VAD are already facing an inevitable and relatively imminent, horrible death from some incurable disease.  They only choose VAD in sheer desperation because death is better than their agony!  In a cruel irony to the Churches’ official position on suicide, the abuse by paedophile priests and the cover-up of these actions by the Church hierarchy has led in turn to the tragic suicides of so many of their innocent victims.

It amazes us how someone who is apparently a loving Christian can sanction agonised suffering in the name of religion, or should we say dogma?  The Commandment used to oppose VAD is “You shall not kill”, but even that is a questionable interpretation of the original text.  The translation in our New Revised Standard Version Bible is: “You shall not murder”.  This implies a malicious intent by another person.  VAD is neither murder nor malicious, so the whole theological basis for opposing VAD is based on an alternative, inferior interpretation.  The result of this is unnecessary, horrible suffering.
Ms Doumit claims that the death toll from VAD will skyrocket, but experience in Oregon over 24 years has proven just the opposite. The most recent figures in 2021 show that a mere 0.59% of all deaths (less than 60 per 10,000) were the result of the Death With Dignity Act.  383 patients were given prescriptions for a VAD substance, but only 238 actually used it.  This shows that the mere prescription for a VAD substance is a strong palliative measure in its own right.  These figures prove Ms Doumit’s claims to be unfounded, and in fact there is considerable evidence that many of these patients granted access actually live longer and have a better end quality of life than those who do not seek to access it.

Ms Doumit refers to the Canadian Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) legislation as evidence that VAD in Australia will be flawed. However, the Canadian and Australian laws are very different, and it is not valid to compare them.  The models of VAD used here in Australia are working well and with care and compassion. It is common practice to fine tune laws after legislation, and doing so should have the positive effect of overcoming unintended consequences, rather than the negative effect that Ms Doumit is implying.

Ms Doumit’s article cites several tragic examples of people in Canada who can’t afford the costs of managing their circumstances, who she alleges will be covered by VAD.

Tracey has been unable to hold down a job for more than two years because of the effects of long COVID.  While her long COVID diagnosis does not qualify her for disability support, it does qualify her for euthanasia. Tracey does not want to die but with no job and no social welfare, she cannot afford to live. She has said that for her, euthanasia is “exclusively a financial consideration.”

Denise suffers from allergies to things like cigarette smoke and certain laundry chemicals, and cannot afford to find a smoke-free apartment.

Madeline is one of about 600,000 Canadians suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome.  Because only six Canadian doctors specialise in chronic fatigue, getting specialist help is near impossible for her.  Unfortunately, the support payments she receives each week are insufficient to cover the vitamin treatments that keep the symptoms at bay, and so she too is looking to euthanasia as an “out.”

Tracey, Denise and Madeline would not qualify for VAD in Australia because they are not facing imminent death.  These cases would however be the perfect opportunity for the Catholic Church to put its money where its mouth is, and provide some additional funds to these three ladies from their tax free operations.

Where is charity?  Where is Truth in Ms Doumit’s journalism?

People who don’t need VAD will simply not be affected by VAD legislation, so who is the fight against VAD meant to defend?  It certainly isn’t going to help the patients who have requested it, and who desperately want a peaceful death.  Ms Doumit’s attitude, and that of the Catholic Church, lacks love and compassion, the cornerstone of Christianity.  By continuing to resist VAD, the Catholic Church hierarchy is demonstrating anything but Christianity.  Many of our Catholic friends ignore the official policy of the Church on many issues which are misogynistic and completely out of touch with a modern, thinking society.

History has shown how the Catholic Church has been dragged, metaphorically kicking and screaming, into the modern era.  It opposed women being given the right to vote and having the right to pursue meaningful careers, like Ms Doumit’s own career.  The Catholic Church continues to this day to deny equality to women within its own corridors of power.  Perhaps Ms Doumit should consider these attributes of her Church before defending its dogmatic policies so fervently.

We would welcome the opportunity to continue correspondence with Ms Doumit about this issue.

To give balance to the Catholic Weekly we offered to buy a paid advert page asking them to print the above so that  their readers could make a more informed decision.  Sadly, but not unexpectedly, they refused to publish the letter! Continue reading

Ian Wood, Co-founder of Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Assisted Dying group awarded Life Membership of VADSA

On Saturday 23rd July, 2022, during a brief visit to South Australia, I was delighted to be presented with an Honorary Life Membership Award by Frances Coombe, President of Voluntary Assisted Dying South Australia (VADSA).

Ian Wood receiving Life Membership Award from Frances Coombe.

In accepting this Award, I expressed my thanks to Frances Coombe and the VADSA team for this recognition, and my humble gratitude to every person who has helped our group in so many ways, and who have continued to motivate me in my work of advocating for Voluntary Assisted Dying as an additional compassionate end-of-life choice from the aspect of Christian support.

I recalled that I first found out about SAVES, as it was known then, late in 2004 .  My Mother was dying in the last stages of Alzheimer’s in December, and I wrote to our local MP Rob Kerin and to the Premier Mike Rann challenging them to go and visit my Mother in her terrible emaciated condition – saying there must be better and more compassionate ways of dying.  Of course they never came. Sadly, access to VAD is still not available to those with dementia related illnesses in Australia.

My activity really started when late in 2008 Frances Coombe asked me and also Rev Trevor Bensch to consider forming a Christian support group.  Trevor had previously written letters to the SA MPs in support in 2007.  Then the three of us met in the North Adelaide Baptist Church Vestry and Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Euthanasia was officially formed 9.2.2009. We had our first article in the Advertiser on 23rd Feb 2009 by Jill Pengilly.

Now, every state has passed a Voluntary Assisted Dying law, amazing progress over the last few years.   It is a recognition that while good palliative care is important, the additional VAD choice is also needed, providing great peace of mind to those using it.

Ian Wood, National Co-ordinator and Spokesperson, Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Assisted Dying.  Continue reading

New South Wales passes Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill – the 6th and final state!

New South Wales passes Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill – the 6th and final state!

May 19, 2022  It took many years of lobbying for this additional compassionate end of life choice, however the NSW Legislative Council, after considering around 100 adverse amendments in a long debate, and rejecting them all, passed the final stage of the VAD Bill 2021 by a substantial majority of 23 votes to 15. The Bill had passed the Lower House 52 votes to 32 on the last sitting day of 2021.   The final version of the VAD Bill was then adopted in the Lower House on 19.5.2022.

A previous NSW Bill was lost by just one vote in 2017, about the same time Victoria passed their VAD Act.

This is an emotional time, as I think back to my late friend and mentor, Rev Trevor Bensch, who co-founded our group with me early in 2009.  Trevor was a hospital chaplain, and some of what he had witnessed led him to support the VAD choice.  We met with The Advertiser reporter Jill Pengelley in the vestry of North Adelaide Baptist Church, and this article was our first piece of publicity!

We have updated our terminology since to reflect that used in all Australian VAD legislation.

Above: Rev Trevor Bensch with our first Patron, Kym Bonython AC, DFC, AFC

I must thank every person who has written and spoken to MPs, those who have shared their stories of loved ones who endured needless suffering at the end of their lives, every Voluntary Assisted Dying Group in each state and territory, Andrew Denton and the team at Go Gentle Australia, Rev Dr Craig de Vos B.V.Sc., Dip.P.S., B.Th.(Hons.), Ph.D., and so many others who have assisted me in our part in reaching this goal. Huge thanks go also to Alex Greenwich MP, all the co-sponsors of the VAD Bill, Adam Searle MLC for his work in the Legislative Council, and every MP who spoke and voted to pass the Bill.

Of course the final step in VAD legislation throughout Australia is to have the Right of the Territories to enact VAD legislation restored.  This was taken away in what is known as the ‘Andrews Bill’ by the Howard Government, after our Northern Territory under the guidance of Marshall Perron became the first jurisdiction in the world to pass a ‘Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995’ to give end of life choice.

We do need to be aware that it will be18 months before VAD actually becomes available in NSW, to allow for setting up all the facets of the Bill re access.

To those who have opposed this legislation – we do remind you that the key word is voluntary and there is no compulsion for you to use the law in any way.  We all support more funding for palliative care, and better access to palliative care in remote and country areas, but also know that the Voluntary Assisted Dying choice is needed in addition to the best possible PC.

History has been made and the wishes of Continue reading

Petition to the NSW Parliament – Please pass the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 without delay

Five states in Australia now have a Voluntary Assisted Dying law and only New South Wales is lagging behind. We need this compassionate end-of-life choice in addition to palliative care.

A VAD Bill passed the NSW Lower House on the last sitting day of 2021 by a substantial majority of 52 votes to 32. The Bill has now been introduced in the Upper House, to be debated in the coming weeks. Please add your name to the ePetition now, to help make this Voluntary Assisted Dying law a reality in NSW.

PETITION TO NSW PARLIAMENT: Please pass the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill without delay

Bertie and Darcie Daniels lost their Dad Lawrie in 2016. He took his own life in 2016 after years suffering MS. If assisted dying laws had been in place these children would have more time with their beloved Dad. They want to spare other families the same tragedy.

Photo: Go Gentle Australia


If you live in New South Wales please add your name today  to the ePetition using this link > Please pass the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill without delay

If you live outside of NSW but have family or friends in NSW who support the Voluntary Assisted Dying Choice, please share the ePetition link with them today.

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A new NSW Legislative Council ePetition ‘Please pass the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 without delay’ – is open for you to sign.

A post for the huge majority of voters in New South Wales who support Voluntary Assisted Dying choice.

An new ePetition ‘Please pass the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 without delay’ is now open for signatures on the NSW Parliament website.

You can find the ePetition here >

Please sign now and please share with all your friends and family in NSW who would wish to have this compassionate End-of-Life Choice passed in NSW.

We are the only state still without a VAD Act! The NSW Lower House passed a VAD Bill 52 votes to 32 on the last sitting day 2021, but your help is needed now to get it through the final hurdle – the Legislative Council.  Debate may start in the Legislative Council as early as February 22nd, 2022

Together we can make it happen!

Note that those opposing our Right to choose VAD in NSW have a counter Petition, so your assistance by signing in support is vital.

If you are reading this and live outside of New South Wales, but know people in NSW who support VAD,  please share this post with them now.

Photo: DWD NSW

Thank you,  and please stay Covid free.

Ian Wood

Spokesperson and Co-founder, Christians Supporting Choice for Continue reading

Archbishop Desmond Tutu gave his blessing to the Voluntary Assisted Dying campaign in Australia.

We mourn the death of Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on 26.12 2021

Archbishop Tutu was a leader in human rights issues as well as a strong supporter of Voluntary Assisted Dying.

One of the world’s most highly regarded religious leaders, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu of South Africa  stated in the  video message above: “People who are terminally ill should have the option of dignified and compassionate assisted dying alongside the wonderful palliative care that already exists”.  “I pray that lawmakers, politicians and religious leaders have the courage to support choices terminally ill citizens make in departing Mother Earth with dignity and love.”

Ian Wood, spokesperson for the Australian group, Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Assisted Dying, said in 2017 on an earlier post on this website,  “I am delighted to learn that Archbishop Tutu is willing to give his blessing and support to our Christian campaign for legislation to allow the option of compassionate choice for a person who is terminally or incurably ill with intolerable suffering.”

“The Archbishop recognises the enormous value of palliative care, Continue reading

Sept 22nd 2021 marks 25 years since the first legal assisted death of Bob Dent in NT and 4 years since the tragic dying of Elizabeth Holmes in NSW

On September 22, 2021, we recall the first legal assisted death in Australia, in fact in the world, that of Bob Dent in the Northern Territory on September 22, 1996, 25 years ago.  Bob had suffered from prostate cancer.  We thank Marshall Perron, who, as the Chief Minister of the NT, initiated this legislation.  Sadly, this legislation was overturned by Federal Parliament the following year by the Howard Government by what has been known as the Andrews Bill.  We acknowledge Bob’s wife, Judy, who, as President of the NTVES (NT Voluntary Euthanasia Society), has been lobbying for 25 years to have the Right of the Territory restored to the NT Parliament to enact a VAD Bill.

Tragically, on the same date, September 22, but in 2017, Elizabeth Holmes, who had been in agony for some time from stage 4 breast cancer and other serious health problems, decided the only way to relieve her suffering was to take her own life in Tamworth, New South Wales.  As Elizabeth (Liz) noted just prior to her death, this desperate action could have been avoided if NSW had had a Voluntary Assisted Dying Law.  Such a law would have given Liz a compassionate extra choice in the manner of her dying.

New South Wales is now the only state remaining without a VAD law,  It is time!  COVID-19  has made many of us contemplate our dying and should not be used as a reason for delaying legislation.

This following speech by Sandra Nelson, MLA for Katherine, NT,   talks of the circumstances prior to the death of Elizabeth Holmes.  It is surely yet another reason why a Voluntary Assisted Dying  law is needed  in New South Wales.           The speech has now been shared with all NSW Members of Parliament by Elizabeth Holmes’ daughter.
Posted here, including photos, with permission. 

23 November 2017
Madam Speaker, I rise tonight to commend Premier of Victoria – Daniel Andrews and his government on the historic passing of voluntary euthanasia laws which were passed in Victoria’s Upper House on Wednesday 22nd November.
Madam Speaker , There are few topics as popular, and yet divisive, as euthanasia. Both sides raise compelling arguments, and those arguments are numerous.

End of life care for the terminally ill or those with ir-remediable illnesses is dictated by law, regardless of what is in the best interests of the patient. The current prohibition on assisted suicide is at odds with our otherwise patient-centred health system, it’s almost contradictory. This is the one area of medical care in which the patient’s views cannot be considered and taken into account in determining a course of action.

Many of those who would seek assisted suicide are not physically capable of taking their own life. Even where a person is capable of taking action themselves, it is my opinion that it is barbaric to leave them with the choice between a potentially long and undignified death or violent options to take their own life.

The Northern Territory likes to think of itself as frontier country – it was certainly at the forefront of the international debate over euthanasia. On 25 May 1995 it became the first jurisdiction in the world to pass laws allowing a doctor to end the life of a terminally ill patient at the patient’s request. In doing so, the law permitted both physician-assisted suicide, and active voluntary euthanasia in some circumstances.

And under the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995 (NT) strict conditions applied: it is neither an unqualified ‘licence to kill’ nor an unqualified affirmation of a competent adult patient’s right to assistance in dying.

Madam Speaker, a couple of weeks ago I was visited in my electorate office by Sharon Cramp and her husband Spud.
Sharon and Spud shared with me the story about Sharon’s beautiful mother, Elizabeth Ann Holmes. Liz broke her back when she was 53, she battled breast cancer for 12 years, and had Continue reading

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