Select Committee on Euthanasia Submission No.1112 Tonti-Pilippini N
Tabled Paper 1622
Tabled Papers for 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997; Tabled papers; ParliamentNT; Tabled Papers
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I! 3 ,ft is not difficult to imagine the relatives of a patient who jcould not clearly articulate his or her own views, substituting ;their own decision based upon the burden on them of caring for the patient, and convincing the doctor and his colleague to 'relieve them of the burden. Few doctors would want to have a euthanasia practice, just as 'few doctors now want to perform abortion. Like abortion the probability would be for private specialist euthanasia clinics to |be established where the emphasis would be on achieving death 'rather than assisting a patient with good management of distressing symptoms. The immunity to both civil and criminal prosecution in the Bill is so broad that any of those involved in the care of the 'patient acting in good faith in compliance with the Bill cannot |be prosecuted even for actions that are grossly negligent. Thus, for instance, if a doctors attempt to end the life of the patient resulted in a failed attempt and greater suffering, or if 'the patient as a result was left in agony or greater incapacity, or if the doctor neglected to mention to the patient treatment options that would have relieved the patients distress, or was in any other way negligent in ascertaining that the conditions of the law had been met, or if the doctor pcted unlawfully in ignorance of the specific terms of the Bill ut in good faith, then he or she could not be prosecuted, he latter is highly likely as seldom can doctors be bothered to read the fine print of the legal gobbledegook prepared by awyers and legislators.1 * Thus the immunity given in the draft Bill removes all legal protection of the rights of the terminally ill person and his or her family in respect of being able to recover damages for jiegligence once this law is invoked as the justification for the actions of the doctor, nurses and others involved. Rather than protecting the rights of the terminally ill this Bill substantially piminishes them.I * The Bill does not restrict the means used. If he or she wanted to the doctor could use a shotgun or any other means of foiling the patient. A problem with this issue is the lack of adequate definitions and consensus about the terms used. As a result the issue may be more confuasd than it ought to be. Based on my experience as a hospital ethicis:, I would like to offer the following: 1. "o perform euthanasia is to deliberately procure the death of a patient by action (active euthanasia) or by neglect of Reasonable care (passive euthanasia) in order to end suffering by ending life. 1. Jhe experience in Victoria is that even though the Medical Treatm ent Act 1963-90 gives doctors immunity if they complete the forms issued under the Act very few actually do so. In other words, even when it is in the legal interests to do so, doctors generally do not boljher with the documentary detail.