Queenslanders asked for euthanasia views

Aaron Harper: voluntary euthansasia triggers very passionate and divergent views. (AAP)

Queenslanders are for the first time being asked to make known their views on voluntary euthanasia.

For some people voluntary euthanasia is the answer to dying with dignity and preventing lonely suicides. Others believe it's a slippery slope.

The Queensland government wants to know what people think as it tries to navigate how best to ease pain and fear for the terminally ill.

A year-long inquiry into the vexed issue is underway to gauge the level of support for voluntary euthanasia for the first time in both the community and the health sector.

"There will be very passionate and divergent views held on both sides of the debate," says Labor MP Aaron Harper, chair of the committee tasked with examining medically assisted deaths.

It will consider how voluntary assisted dying should be defined in Queensland, who should be eligible, if age restrictions should apply and what safeguards are required to protect vulnerable people from coercion.

David Muir, chairman of Clem Jones Trust, which has been campaigning for voluntary euthanasia to be legalised, says people slipping into death are going to extreme lengths to end their lives.

"Each week somebody is taking their own life in a very drastic and lonely way," he told reporters on Thursday.

"It's carnage ... that we are suffering in our society as a result of not having voluntary euthanasia law reform."

Mr Muir says terminally ill individuals are being terminally sedated with morphine but that there are no protections or levers to ensure accountability.

"What we're talking about is actually introducing safeguards," he added.

But Teeshan Johnson, executive director of Cherish Life Queensland, is against voluntary euthanasia because it opens the vulnerable to abuse.

"No safeguards are effective when it comes to assisted killing," she said.

Considering voluntary euthanasia in Queensland is part of a bigger probe that also looks at aged care staffing, training and bed numbers, and palliative care reforms.

"These are critical areas where policies and priorities of government can profoundly affect the quality of life and dignity of vulnerable people every day," Mr Harper told parliament on Thursday.

Source AAP

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