The justifications offered by the bill’s advocates – that the legal conditions are stringent or that the regime being authorised will be conservative – miss the point entirely. What matters is the core intention of the law. What matters is the ethical threshold being crossed. What matters is that under Victorian law there will be people whose lives we honour and those we believe are better off dead.
One of the inevitable aspects of debates about euthanasia is the reluctance on the part of advocates to confront the essence of what they propose. In this case it means permitting physicians to intentionally kill patients or assisting patients in killing themselves. Understandably, the medical profession is gravely concerned by this venture.
A number of doctors with patients nearing the end of their lives insist that an assisted dying scheme is dangerous and unnecessary, a day before the Victorian Parliament is set to debate a bill that could make it legal.
The geriatric medicine and palliative care specialists say they are concerned that the safeguards in the bill are not enough to prevent “wrongful” deaths, or to protect patients from being coerced into applying for lethal medication.
A blog post from HOPE: Preventing Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, 23 September 2017
It is surely irresponsible not to actually refer a person, who under the Bill’s requirements is supposedly experiencing suffering “that cannot be relieved”, to a palliative care specialist for a full and thorough palliative care assessment.
The Bill simply adopts a checklist, tick a box approach. Somehow the Minister is imagining that merely requiring assessing doctors to mention palliative care is sufficient to ensure that people “will never turn to” assisted suicide or euthanasia because they have not been provided with palliative care.
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.