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Myth of the 68 safeguards

 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?

Geriatrician warns of new risk to elderly Victorians

Associate professor and geriatrician Mark Yates has warned that elderly Victorians now face the additional burden of choosing to continue with life or to have it terminated. He warns that the legalisation of assisted suicide and euthanasia in Victoria from 19 June 2019 now puts the elderly - 10 to 15 per cent of whom already experience abuse - at an additional risk of being coerced or persuaded to request or ingest a deadly poison under the new law.

American Medical Association reaffirms position that assisted suicide is unsafe

The American Medical Association has decisively reaffirmed its position that:

Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.

At the annual meeting of its House of Delegates delegates voted 392-162 (that is 70% for; 30% against) to retain the policy unchanged.

Most terminally ill cancer patients have impaired capacity

In a landmark study of decision making capacity of persons with terminal cancer and a prognosis of less than six months to live – that is a cohort that would be eligible for assisted suicide under the schemes in Oregon and other US States as well as in Victoria, Australia – 90% were found to be impaired in regard to at least one of the four elements of decision making – Choice (15% impaired), Understanding (44%), Appreciation (49%) and Reasoning (85%).

Under Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017, for example, “a person is presumed to have decision-making capacity unless there is evidence to the contrary” (Section 4(2)).

This study suggests that, at least in the case of persons with cancer and a prognosis of less than six months to live, it would be more prudent to start from the presumption that they are likely to have impaired decision making capacity unless it is demonstrated to the contrary.

Euthanasia for victims of rape

It has been widely reported that a 17 year old girl was  euthanased on Sunday 2 June 2019 at her home in Arnhem, the Netherlands,  on the grounds of her suffering as a victim of rape. However, later reports indicate she died from starvation/dehydration after refusing to eat with the intention of ending her life.

Noa Pothoven had been the victim of rape on three separate occasions between the ages of 11 and 14 years.

Don't want to kill your patients, doctor? Better get into hair restoration then

On 15 May 2019 three judges on the Court of Appeal of Ontario dismissed an appeal by four individual doctors and three medical associations, including Canadian Physicians for Life, against a lower court ruling upholding the constitutionality of a policy issued by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario requiring doctors who have a conscientious objection to certain procedures - including euthanasia - to provide any patient requesting such a procedure with an "effective referral" to "a non-objecting, available, and accessible physician, other health-care professional, or agency".

The Court [at 184] cited favourably "evidence" that doctors who conscientiously objected not just to killing their patients but to "effectively referring" them to another doctor who would do so could easily "change the scope of their practice" to a specialty or sub-specialty where they "are unlikely to encounter requests for referrals for" euthanasia such as "hair restoration" or "obesity medicine".


Australian Care Alliance