Victorian euthanasia guide encourages doctor-shopping

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services has released an information pack for those considering euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The guide, which is 50-pages long, is notable for both what it contains as for what it doesn’t contain.

What the guide contains

In terms of what it contains, no less than ten times, the guide tells people what to do if they encounter a doctor who does not want to participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide.

It also invites those whose doctor assesses them as “not eligible” for euthanasia or assisted suicide to “start the process again with another doctor” and provides a handy flowchart for them to follow:

(Source: Voluntary assisted dying: Information for people considering voluntary assisted dying)

 What it does not contain

The guide contains very little information on psychological support following a diagnosis of a terminal illness.  Most of the counselling services recommended are for family members dealing with grief and bereavement following the decision by a loved one to apply for lethal drugs.

There is just one brief sentence about “services that can provide [patients] with emotional and psychological support while [they] are considering or asking” for euthanasia or assisted suicide, and simply refers them to BeyondBlue. 

It contains no information about where a patient might go for help if they are subject to abuse or coercion by family members or other caregivers. 

It contains no information for a patient if they – like the 7.3 per cent of Oregonians who accessed assisted suicide – are concerned about the financial implications of their treatment.

The guide is ordered towards a particular end; that much is clear.