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Politicians wrestle with doctors’ consciences in Victoria

by Paul Russell, MercatorNet, 20 April 2017

Would it be an “obstruction” if a doctor actively attempted to dissuade a person away from assisted suicide or euthanasia – even if only for a short time – for the sake of trying a different approach to their illness or their pain management? The article is silent on this as I expect will be the report. Yet precisely that kind of ethical and moral disuassion saved the life of Janette Hall in Oregon who has survived her prognosis by 14 years after taking the sound advice of her doctor.

Could it not also be the case that even a doctor who held no such conscientious objection might not fall foul of “obstruction” by way of wise advice to the effect that maybe waiting for a little while – for a myriad of good reasons – might not be a better course of action?

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Making Victoria’s euthanasia laws: a process to be shunned

by Robert Clark, The Spectator Australia, 7 December 2017

Regrettably, in Victoria, for many MPs, responsibility was overborne by politics.  The drive to implement the Parliamentary Committee’s recommendation on “voluntary assisted dying” came from a Premier seeking to reposition his party on the political spectrum and to revive his waning popularity, who then used every leverage at his disposal to induce and coerce his party’s MPs to vote for the bill despite party rules allowing a free vote.  Only a brave few government MPs felt able to resist.

If ever anyone wanted an example of how not to legislate on a complex and profound issue like this, Victoria has provided it. It has been a process more befitting a two-bit banana republic than what purports to be a mature Westminster democracy.

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The hidden implications of assisted suicide and euthanasia

by Peter Hudson, The Age, 7 October 2017

The fact is, assisted suicide may simply add to the anxieties and pressures felt by families. While the specific role of family carers in the process of assisted suicide is relatively underexplored, some instances of post-traumatic distress disorder and depression in families who witness assisted suicide have been reported overseas. We shouldn’t think that Victoria’s assisted suicide model is immune from similar unintended consequences. Under the proposed Victorian legislation, before a person is prescribed their lethal dose of medication they must appoint a contact person – who will invariably be a family member or close friend – who is responsible for securing the lethal medication, checking whether or not it has been administered, and returning any unused substances to the pharmacist after the person has died. One might expect the same trusted family member – a partner, a son or daughter – to inevitably bear the responsibility of removing the lethal substances from the locked box and mixing them with a liquid to be consumed by the patient.

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Deputy Premier slams Labor’s voluntary euthanasia laws in sensational split

by Matt Johnston, James Dowling and Alex White, Herald Sun, 25 July 2017

DEPUTY Premier James Merlino has sensationally split from Premier Daniel Andrews, slamming Labor’s voluntary euthanasia laws as endorsing suicide and putting the vulnerable at risk.

“I have deep concerns that these laws put at risk some of our most vulnerable Victorians, who could be subjected to coercion,” he said.

State MPs will be given a conscience vote on the Bill, and Mr Merlino’s passionate rejection of the law sets the scene for an emotion-charged parliamentary debate later this year.

Position of Victoria State MPs on Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill (Australia).

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Palliative care doctors hit out at state government’s proposed voluntary euthanasia laws

by Matt Johnston and Monique Hore, Herald Sun, 20 September 2017

But director of palliative medicine at St Vincent’s Melbourne, Associate Professor Mark Boughey, said he feared this would alter people’s attitudes towards healthcare and patients may feel pressure to end their lives early.

Deputy director of palliative medicine at St Vincent’s, Dr Jenny Weil, said doctors had major concerns about measuring life expectancy — with the Bill allowing for euthanasia within a year of someone’s expected death.

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Former medical association chiefs slam plans for voluntary euthanasia

by Benjamin Preiss, The Age, 20 September 2017

Mr Preiss is Education Reporter for The Age.

Now three past Victorian presidents of the Australian Medical Association – Stephen Parnis, Mukesh Haikerwal and Mark Yates – have united on the steps of Parliament to warn that the laws put the state’s most vulnerable patients at risk. They say they will be lobbying MPs right up until the bill is tabled. 

“This puts the most frail and vulnerable in our community – the dying – at profound risk,” Dr Parnis said. “They are at risk of coercion. They are at risk of not getting the medical care that they deserve and need.”

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