Tasmanian Euthanasia Push - terminal?

  Euthanasia & Assisted Suicide in 'unethical'. 
Following the South Australian Branch of the Australian Medical Association's recent rejection of The Hon Bob Such's Ending Life with Dignity Bill in South Australia, the Tasmanian Branch has now rejected the proposal of Premier Giddings and Nick McKim MP and their Voluntary Assisted Dying proposal.
 
The Hobart Mercury added to the doubt about the success of the proposed legislation last week by suggesting that the bill will fail to pass the lower house.
 

At the same time, the Launceston Examiner is reporting that Tasmanian budget cuts to elective surgery is leaving 'patients in pain.' The report by Independent Health Policy analyst, Martyn Goddard found the State Government's budget cuts to the health sector made an already bad situation into one that was "plainly unacceptable". 

The report found there were people whose GPs knew they needed an operation but who had not been referred to a public hospital because there was "no point in doing so".

"By putting the whole picture together it is probable that the people who are unlikely to ever get clinically necessary operations are in the thousands, rather than the hundreds," said Mr. Goddard.

"This new data gives us the most complete picture yet."

 
In a situation where patients cannot find relief for pain, it is not hard to imagine that, for some, an 'early exit' might be seen as the only option.
 
In spite of the AMA's comments, Bob Such's bill is proceeding.
 
The AMA Tasmania submission stresses that their position is unchanged and entirely consistent with submissions made by them, over many years, on other similar proposals. They also cite the World Medical Association's position which further presses the point that medical bodies across the globe shun the notion of euthanasia & assisted suicide laws:
When addressing the ethical issues associated with end-of-life care, questions regarding euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide inevitably arise. The World Medical Association condemns as unethical both euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.
Moreover, in what can be seen as a direct dismissal of the assertions of the Voluntary Assisted Dying proposal, the AMA Tasmania also confirm that the 1998 Tasmanian Parliamentary Inquiry still holds the force of relevance - something that the VAD paper rejects out-of-hand:
The Committee (1998 Inquiry) received 1162 submissions and its comprehensive and thoughtful report, some 60 pages in length, is essential reading for anyone seriously contemplating a change in the current Tasmanian legislation.
AMA Tasmania would submit that the only change of any note since the report was released is that palliative measures to support end of life care have continued to improve.
The Mercury report suggests that the Lower House would be split 12 votes to 12 by their assessment; which, by convention, would see the initiative fail. This is, in reality, too close to call.
 

The report quotes the AMA's Dr. Davis as saying that the proposal was "completely unacceptable" and opposed by the AMA.

"What euthanasia does is fundamentally change the relationship between the doctor and the patient. Doctors care for patients, doctors do not kill patients," Dr Davis said.

Following the modus operandi of a number of recent reports from places such as Canada and the UK, the VAD paper relies heavily upon a small group of antecedent reports that effectively deny that there is any risk in such legislation to vulnerable people.
 
 
The risk to vulnerable people has been identified as a major concern in the earlier Tasmanian Inquiry, the New York Task Force, the House of Lords committee, the recent Irish Court case and in the debates on every rejected bill. It is clearer now than at anytime in recent history that vulnerable people are at risk and that such risk is inherent in all legislative models.
 
For an analysis on the literature that identifies these risks from recent studies and debunks the findings of the recent reports mentioned, buy a copy of Alex Schadenberg's book: Exposing Vulnerable People to Euthanasia & Assisted Suicide ($19.95 incl. P & H in Australia). CLICK HERE to order your copy and to read more.

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