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Thematic Issue: Abuse of Power / General

Who Is Eligible for Voluntary Assisted Dying? Nine Medical Conditions Assessed against Five Legal Frameworks


Ben P White, Lindy Willmott, Katrine Del Villar, Jayne Hewitt, Eliana Close, Laura Ley Greaves, James Cameron, Rebecca Meehan, Jocelyn Downie

Eligibility criteria in voluntary assisted dying legislation determine access to assistance to die. This article undertakes the practical exercise of analysing whether each of the following nine medical conditions can provide an individual with access to voluntary assisted dying: cancer, motor neurone disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease, anorexia, frailty, spinal cord injury and Huntington’s disease. This analysis occurs across five legal frameworks: Victoria, Western Australia, a model Bill in Australia, Oregon and Canada. The article argues that it is critical to evaluate voluntary assisted dying legislation in relation to key medical conditions to determine the law’s boundaries and operation. A key finding is that some frameworks tended to grant the same access to voluntary assisted dying, despite having different eligibility criteria. The article concludes with broader regulatory insights for designing voluntary assisted dying frameworks both for jurisdictions considering reform and those reviewing existing legislation.

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(2022) 45(1) UNSWLJ 401: