This Wednesday, a controversial law on “assisted death” was adopted following a “rigorous debate” in the Australian State of. This will take effect in June 2019. This is the first Australian State to legalise assisted suicide after a very brief period of legislation in the Northern Territories in 1997.
The “system” will be available for “terminally ill patients” who are over 18 years of age, have been living in the State of Victoria for at least one year and who have been given no more than six months to live. The patients who make this request will be examined by “several doctors“. The latter must confirm that the patients are suffering from “intolerable pain” and are of “sound mind“. Where possible, the patients “will administer the lethal substance themselves“. “A doctor will help them” if necessary. The doctor does not have the right to be the first to suggest assisted suicide but he/she must respond to the patient’s request within ten days.
Doctor Lorraine Baker, President of the Australian Medical Association, commented as follows: “Historically, everyone involved in the medical profession seeks to preserve life. It has been a basic, ethical principle for centuries! However, we are living in a society where, nowadays, life can be prolonged. This can also prolong obvious suffering. It will come as no surprise to learn that, conversely, most health professionals are opposed [to assisted suicide]“. She issued the following warning: “Watching a person die, whatever the cause, is very painful for anyone looking on. Regardless of whether or not it is an assisted death, it is a challenge and poses a problem for the patient’s friends and family“.
Editor’s note: There has been no reference to date of conscientious objection for doctors or the opportunity for families to oppose the patient’s decision.
AFP (29/11/2017) ; The New York Times, Adam Baidawi (29/11/2017)