Therese Zuanetti with her mum Marie Dupois in hospital last year.
Therese Zuanetti with her mum Marie Dupois in hospital last year.

New laws ‘could have saved mum from suffering’

A grieving daughter, whose elderly mother died after a four-month hospital stay, has said proposed voluntary assisted dying laws could have allowed her mum to challenge medical decisions about ending her life.

The state Labor Party said if re-elected it would introduce voluntary assisted dying laws in February, when it launched its election policies in Logan at the weekend.

Therese Zuanetti said her mother, Marie Dupois, died a traumatic death in Gold Coast Public University Hospital in December, when her family wanted her to die at home.

Ms Zuanetti, who did not have her mother's power of attorney in place, said the family lost control of Mrs Dupois's final days when the Public Guardian was called in.

Therese Zuanetti said her mother would have used the proposed laws to have more control over the way she died.
Therese Zuanetti said her mother would have used the proposed laws to have more control over the way she died.

"Even though we are Catholic and our faith does not allow for euthanasia, if this had been law, my mother would have had options that may have reduced some of her suffering," she said.

"The proposed law can only be applied to those who are still able to make their own decisions - and my mother was still capable of that and she was vocal about wanting to get out of the hospital.

"The decision was left to medical staff and her life ended in hospital.

"If this legislation was in place at the time, my mother would have exercised her rights and taken up the option of voluntary euthanasia, if she needed it … but at home."

Ms Zuanetti said many Catholic-based hospitals were unlikely to offer the option.

Marie Dupois was in hospital when she died last year.
Marie Dupois was in hospital when she died last year.


Under the ALP policy, a medical practitioner would need to diagnose a person as having an advanced and progressive terminal, chronic or neurodegenerative medical condition to be covered.

Only those with "decision-making capability" would be eligible after assessment from two qualified medical practitioners with the laws to be reviewed in three years.

Parkinson woman Zenah Usman, whose 50-year-old mother has months to live, said even though the laws gave families of terminally-ill people greater choice, she would not use them.

"I can understand people wanting these laws but they are not something me and my family will consider.

"I don't want to impose my faith and beliefs on others - especially when I see the quality of life for my mother is really poor - she has nothing to look forward to - she is not eating or drinking.

"It is not a way to live and I hear her everyday - she just wishes it to end - so it is very difficult.

"She has a few months to live … we were offered life-extending chemotherapy but we are appreciative of the little time we have left with her and we are trying to spend as much time with her as possible."

Ms Usman said she and her husband hoped to conceive before her mother died.

A parliamentary committee recommended a review of the scheme in three years to ensure the laws worked as expected.

Voluntary assisted dying laws were passed in Victoria in 2017 and Western Australian in 2019 and in Queensland, Labor members will be allowed a conscience vote on any proposed laws.

Clem Jones Trust chairman and assisted dying advocate David Muir welcomed the policy and said no extra deaths would occur if the legislation was approved.

David Muir from the Clem Jones Trust. PHOTO: Annette Dew
David Muir from the Clem Jones Trust. PHOTO: Annette Dew

 

Mr Muir said professional polling with YouGov showed 80 per cent of people in Queensland wanted the VAD laws.

"There will be no extra deaths caused by these laws but a lot less suffering," he said.

"There will be a safety mechanism - at the moment the only options are slow and terrible suffering and end of life and terminal sedation as one option - that's the way of dying slowly and sometimes with terrible suffering and there are no safeguards built around terminal sedation.

"The beauty of these laws is that it will give the power back to the terminally-ill so the person in the bed will have the decision.

"At the moment, the decisions are made by doctors, nurses or family members."

While Labor has made a public stance on the issue, Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington has refused to say whether she personally supports euthanasia but says no one should have to die in pain.

The Opposition Leader, who has promised to grant her MPs a conscience vote on euthanasia should laws come before the House, said it was a deeply personal issue.


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