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This week, the role of doctors will fundamentally change

By Mark Yates, The Age, 17th June 2019

Mark Yates, geriatrician and associate professor at Deakin University, discusses how from June 19, “Victoria will become the only jurisdiction in Australia to legalise euthanasia by enacting the voluntary assisted dying legislation.”

The fact that this will be a rare occurrence is irrelevant to the majority of the medical profession. The issue is that the role of the doctor is fundamentally changed by this legislation, from treatment to protect life and relieve suffering to now include intentionally causing the death of a patient

For doctors there is plenty of room for challenge and risk of accusation of unprofessional behaviour or worse, whether a doctor declines or accepts to head down the voluntary assisted dying pathway. The blanket protection included for doctors once the person is dead does not protect them from accusations of errors in process. Predicting prognosis, assessing capacity and the self-definition of “expert in the field” are all open to interpretation and challengeable.

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Dismay at a seismic shift in medical practice

By Douglas T Bridge, Sinead M Donnelly and Frank P Brennan, Medical Journal of Australia, 4 March 2019

As the peak physician organisation in Australasia, we urge the Royal Australasian College of Physicians to make an unambiguous statement to the general public, the medical profession and politicians that EAS is not part of health care; EAS should not require involvement of doctors; and EAS creates irreconcilable conflicts with our responsibilities to our patients.

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Euthanasia debate enters Vic’s upper house

Sky News Australia, 2 November 2017

Support for the Victorian government’s controversial assisted dying laws are on a knife’s edge, as debate is due to start in the upper house.

Debate on the laws is scheduled for the upper house on Thursday and needs 21 votes to pass. It’s so far attracted about 20.

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Paul Keating: Voluntary euthanasia is a threshold moment for Australia, and one we should not cross

by Paul Keating, The Age, 19 October 2017

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.

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Deputy Premier says Labor’s death Bill is risky and bad legislation

by James Dowling, Herald Sun, 11 October 2017

Mr Merlino said the issue was not part of an election campaign and the person “on the street” would be surprised to learn euthanasia laws will be introduced to parliament next week.

Mr Merlino said the “risky and bad legislation” amounted to a pro-suicide Bill and has lobbied his colleagues to vote against it.

“I think this has come along without a lot of public awareness.

“I think it needs a longer, deeper engagement with all areas of our society.”

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Doctors appeal to Vic MPs to vote down assisted dying bill

by Jane Lee, PM (ABC Radio), 16 October 2017

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.

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All About Relieving Suffering? Think Again

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.

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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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