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  • NSW bill allows terminally ill patients to end their lives

    Author: AAP

A NSW woman suffering from motor neuron disease has given her backing to a new bill that could allow terminally ill patients to end their lives.

A terminally ill mother of two has told her emotional story in NSW parliament, leaving politicians in tears as they push for a new bill that would give her and others like her the right to die with dignity.

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Battling motor neuron disease, Anne Gabrielides, 53, joined MPs on Tuesday to show her support for the controversial legislation.

Slightly slurred speech less than a year ago has snowballed, leaving Ms Gabrielides struggling to talk and in fear she will be "trapped in her body" without the option to end her own life, she told journalists with the aid of text-to-speech software on her iPad.

"Ten months ago I only had a mild speech slur, now it's all gone," she said.

A cross-party working group of five NSW MPs led by National Trevor Khan released a draft bill for public consultation on Tuesday and expect to introduce it to parliament in August.

If passed it will give people over 25 and expected to die within 12 months, access to medically assisted euthanasia.

Mr Khan said current laws don't stop people trying to end their lives and the legislation would encourage discussion of euthanasia with a doctor, providing more humane options.

"Is it fair and reasonable that a person has to choose to starve themselves to death to bring an end to their suffering? That's an appalling choice that's presented to people now," Mr Khan said.

Safeguards in the bill include a 48-hour cooling-off period and the right of close relatives to challenge patient eligibility in court as well as a requirement that two medical practitioners approve the final decision.

A professional speech pathologist, Ms Gabrielides, from the Blue Mountains, has been given a 12-month prognosis and is terrified of an undignified, drawn out and painful death.

The "bastard of a disease" had made daily tasks a struggle and speaking, using her hands and eating almost impossible, Ms Gabrielides said.

Her husband, daughter and son joined her at Parliament House.

Paul Gabrielides said the decision for his wife to end her own life had been made more than 35 years after watching his mother die a horrible death.

"We had decided right there and then that we were not going to experience the same thing," Mr Gabrielides said.

A petition seeking support from MPs for assisted dying laws has received more than 51,000 signatures.

Nobody in the family wanted Ms Gabrielides to die but they supported her choice, daughter Eleni, 20, said.

"It was never a question for me. Our family has always been about supporting each other and loving each other no matter what," she said.

Euthanasia is not legal in any Australian state or territory despite being briefly legalised in the Northern Territory.

Victoria is also working on a bill to legalise assisted dying and it is expected to vote on it later this year.


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