AMA warns Australia on a ‘slippery slope’

The WA panel recommends doctors be allowed to initiate a euthanasia conversation with a terminally-ill patient(Bigstock)

The Australian Medical Association has warned that Australia is on a “slippery slope” towards wrongful deaths. Source: The Australian.

An expert panel yesterday recommended that patients should be eligible for voluntary assisted dying in WA if they had a disease likely to cause death within 12 months. This contrasts with Victoria, where terminally ill people must have less than six months to live to qualify to end their lives by taking lethal medication.

The 13-member panel, chaired by former WA governor Malcolm McCusker, also recommended that nurse practitioners be able to give permission for a patient to access the scheme in that state.

In Victoria, where new laws came into effect last week, the assessment of a patient’s eligibility can be made by two doctors, one of whom must be a specialist.

The WA panel has adopted that safeguard but recommended that the second assessment can be done by a qualified nurse practitioner, given the scarcity of doctors in country areas of WA.

The WA scheme would also differ from Victoria, the first VAD scheme in the nation, by allowing doctors to raise the subject of euthanasia with their patients.

AMA WA president Omar Khorshid said he was concerned that the panel had recommended a regime that was “nowhere near as safe” as Victoria’s. He was worried that Queensland, the next state to consider euthanasia laws, would go further.

“There is no justification for slipping down the slope into a bad regime that is dangerous,’’ he said.

“The AMA’s view is that we need to protect the vulnerable in society if we are to move down this path of euthanasia.”

Health Minister Roger Cook said the expert report would help in the development of legislation to be introduced into parliament in August.


AMA warns nation on ‘slippery slope’ as WA considers euthanasia (The Australian

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