The much vaunted mandatory training for doctors before they are licensed by the State of Victoria to prescribe a deadly poison to people for the purpose of suicide or administer a lethal injection to them is supposed, among other things, to ensure these doctors are competent to assess decision making capacity and voluntariness in those requesting assisted suicide or euthanasia.
However, a comparison of the total of 10 minutes training provided on these topics in the Victorian mandatory training with the thoughtful proposals presented in an article published in the Internal Medicine Journal in January 2019 entitled "Biggest decision of them all – death and assisted dying: capacity assessments and undue influence screening” leads to the conclusion that the bar has been set very low indeed in Victoria and that there will be wrongful deaths in Victoria due to this failure.
The answer to bad deaths is not euthanasia. The answer is a better understanding of basic medical ethics, of palliative medicine, of what happens to the body when it is dying, and how to care for someone at the end of life.
Dr Amanda Landers, community palliative care physician and senior clinical lecturer at the University of Otago, Christchurch
By having, as its destination, the planned, premature death of a person, [Victoria's euthanasia and physician assisted suicide] law ventures into an uncertain medical terrain, the vagaries of human nature and the extraordinarily complex nature of interpersonal relationships. No law can perfectly capture this reality. Of minds made up and then changed. Of the ebb and flow of the human spirit, despairing now, content a day later. Of a selfless impulse, in some, to ease the burden on one’s family. Of a lifetime habit, in others, of acquiescing to the suggestion, even unspoken, of a dominant relative.
A Canadian man with quadriplegia has explained how he feels pressure towards euthanasia from those providing him with nursing care as they favourably recount stories of other people who have chosen euthanasia without him soliciting information or raising the issue at all.
In an email to Alex Schadenburg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition he said:
I am living in the advanced stages of quadriplegia, now 33 years along. I am feeling the suggestive influence from my nursing care, regarding euthanasia. They use indirect pressure by speaking about other patients who have chosen the path of assisted death, unsolicited from me. I am worried about Canadian laws, so anti-life, and I don't ever want to end my life. I didn't choose when I was born, and I won't choose when I die. Another thing that concerns me is as these evil laws progress against the vulnerable like myself, when will this new found right to die become the duty or obligation to die? I can see it coming...
The final report of the Ministerial Expert Panel appointed by the Western Australian Labor Government includes 33 recommendations for yet another fatally flawed experiment with assisted suicide and euthanasia that would put vulnerable Western Australians at risk of wrongful deaths.
The proposed scheme would allow for broader access than in Victoria with the key eligibility criteria to include that "death is reasonably foreseeable for the person within a period of 12 months". This recommendation borrows the language of the Canadian law where it has been given a very broad interpretation in the courts. This is significantly broader than the Victorian law which requires that death be expected within six months (or 12 months for neurodegenerative conditions).
The proposed WA scheme would also allow euthanasia - where a doctor or nurse practitioner injects the person with a lethal substance - more readily than in Victoria, where this is limited to those persons who are assessed as "physically incapable of self-administering". In Western Australia, it is proposed that it be a matter of "clinical determination" between the doctor or nurse practitioner and the person as to whether assisted suicide or euthanasia is more "suitable for the person". the factors to be considered include any matter the clinician or person sees as "necessary to the decision making".
Evidence from other jurisdictions such as the Netherlands and Canada shows that where both options are available the overwhelming majority of people prefer euthanasia and that the per capita rate of euthanasia and assisted suicide is significantly higher than in jurisdictions, such as Oregon, where only assisted suicide is lawful.
“With 68 safeguards, the Voluntary Assisted Dying framework is the safest, and most conservative, in the world.”
Andrews government media release
The factoid that Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 has “68 safeguards” has been mindlessly echoed by a compliant mass media obviously incapable of doing basic research.
- SBS reports that “Victorian adults … who meet 68 safeguards can request their doctor's help in dying.”
- ABC AM reports that the “68 safeguards” will “ensure only eligible patients can die with medical help.”
- AAP managed to turn the “68 safeguards” into “68 criteria” reporting that “terminally ill Victorians who meet 68 criteria will be able to ask their doctor for access to a lethal concoction of drugs”.
- 4BC opines that there are “68 strict safeguards and conditions that patients must meet before they can be given approval to access voluntary assisted dying.”
Has any reporter (with the notable exception of Peta Credlin, from Sky News) bothered to track down and examined the actual list of 68 alleged safeguards?