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Perth academic to die by euthanasia

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April 13, 2018

Dr Philip Nitschke says it's extremely difficult to put a timeline on terminal illness.

Terminally ill West Australians will have to jump through hoops if the state adopts the same "inhumane" safeguards in euthanasia laws recently passed in Victoria, a parliamentary inquiry has heard.

Controversial euthanasia advocate Dr Philip Nitschke told the committee on Friday the six-month time frame before dying patients could access voluntary assisted death would likely be challenged in court.

"What we're talking about here is suffering. It's extremely difficult to put a timeline on terminal illness," Dr Nitschke said on Friday.

TV personality Andrew Denton will also give evidence at the inquiry on behalf of pro-euthanasia group Go Gentle Australia.

In his written submission, Mr Denton said it was untrue that increasing resources for palliative care would rid the need for voluntary euthanasia.

"The words and statistics from palliative care tell us so, as do the many testimonies from families of those who have died badly, despite the best that palliative care can offer," he said.

Mr Denton argued there is a difference between pain and suffering.

"Pain can, in most cases, be dealt with. But suffering, which is multi-faceted and at many levels is the heart of the matter," he said.

The Joint Select Committee is examining if WA should follow in the footsteps of Victoria, which introduced voluntary euthanasia legislation in November with terminally-ill patients able to access assisted dying from 2019.

The parliamentary committee is expected to deliver its findings by August 23, paving the way for a free parliamentary vote on voluntary euthanasia.

It has heard arguments from both pro and anti-euthanasia advocates including religious groups, palliative and end-of-life care workers and the Australian Medical Association WA, which officially opposes voluntary, doctor-assisted death.

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