Wightman torn over euthanasia

ATTORNEY-General Brian Wightman is torn over whether or not to support proposed voluntary euthanasia laws in Tasmania.

Mr Wightman said he had thought long and hard about the co-sponsored private members' bill that Labor Premier Lara Giddings and Greens leader Nick McKim plan to introduce this year.

However, he is yet to decide if he is prepared to support the legislation after his father died from a terminal illness last year.

"The difficult days dad had were the days where, as he described it, the pain got away from the medication," Mr Wightman said.

"Having such a recent experience of it and knowing full well the pain my father was in, particularly in his last weeks, I'm really torn. I'll need to look, obviously, at the legislation."

On Sunday, Ms Giddings and Mr McKim released a long-awaited discussion paper outlining their preferred model for "voluntary assisted dying".

The proposed model restricts access to terminally ill adults in advanced stages of their disease, who live in Tasmania and are mentally competent.

People with dementia or depression would not be considered.

All political parties are expected to grant their MPs a conscience vote on the issue when a bill is debated in Parliament later this year.

The Australian Christian Lobby is urging all Tasmanian MPs to reject such legislation because it offers no guaranteed protections for vulnerable people.

Lobby Tasmanian director Mark Brown said Australian parliaments had knocked back proposed laws on euthanasia before because safeguards were deemed ineffectual.

"According to a Tasmanian Council of Social Services report elder abuse is already a growing social problem affecting an estimated 4000 elderly Tasmanians every year," Mr Brown said."With such legislation proposed there is still the possibility of coercion even with doctor assessments and cooling off periods."


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