Labor’s Bastain Seidel delivers heartfelt contribution to voluntary assisted dying debate in Tasmanian Parliament

Voluntary assisted dying bill progresses

General practitioner turned politician, Bastian Seidel, has delivered an emotional and vivid account of the death of a young mother to illustrate his support for voluntary assisted dying in Tasmania.

Debate on legislation to facilitate the end-of-life option continued in the Legislative Council on Tuesday.

Elected as a Labor member for Huon last month, Dr Seidel his view on voluntary assisted dying had changed over the course of his medical career.

He said doctors always sought out any avenue for medical treatment, but at times, could be left with no options.

To make this point, Dr Seidel told the story of a young mother he had treated for an untreatable and aggressive form of throat cancer.

With all treatment options exhausted, she was left to be cared in her home and had even pleaded with Dr Seidel to end her suffering.

One day, he was called to an emergency at her home after the large tumour in her throat ruptured.

Dr Seidel said she died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

“It’s not the death she wanted,” he said.

“Even after all those days, when I see her husband and her two children in my community, I still feel guilty.

“Despite the best, most advanced, comprehensive care, I failed.

“I failed because she did not have a good death.”

Prosser Liberal MLC Jane Howlett argued it was not the time to debate voluntary assisted dying, which she referred to as “state-assisted suicide”, during a worldwide pandemic.

“We need to protect life, not find ways to bring it to an early end,” she said.

“Why the rush? Why do we need to rush it and push it through right now?”

McIntrye independent MLC Tana Rattray said she supported the principle of the bill, but held concerns over exploitation of vulnerable people and access to general practitioners who would facilitate the voluntary assisted dying process.

She foreshadowed inserting an amendment to the bill which would see assessment of an eligible patient by a panel of three general practitioners.

Windermere independent MLC Ivan Dean also raised concerns over elder elder abuse and exploitation of the legislation for nefarious reasons.

“If this legislation is supported, I can confidently say that there will be at times allegations of another party influencing or indoctrinating a terminally sick patient to agree to ending life,” he said.

Mr Dean said he once objected to voluntary assisted dying, but now supported its principle.

Legislative Council members voted for the clauses within the bill to be debated at a later date.