been several attempts over the last twenty years to introduce voluntary
assisted dying legislation in Australia, many of which have failed by slim
majorities. Voluntary assisted dying is
permitted in several jurisdictions overseas, including the Netherlands,
Switzerland, Belgium, Canada, Washington, Oregon and California.
- We recognise that
our members have a range of strongly-held views on this topic – some are
strongly supportive and some equally strongly against.
- Because of this,
Avant does not take a position on whether or not physician-assisted dying
should be permitted at law.
- We believe that
participation or otherwise in any voluntary assisted dying regime is a matter
for individual conscience, to be exercised within the context of acceptable
standards of professional conduct and within the law.
legislative framework must incorporate sufficient protections for those doctors
who choose to participate, and those who choose not to participate.
- Legislation should clearly outline the processes to be followed and
doctors’ obligations at a high level with further detail in guidelines.
- The following protections should be included in the legislation:
The legislation should not include a prescriptive requirement for
referral in the case of conscientious objection but conscientious objection should
be dealt with under current ethical guidelines.
- That a doctor is not required or compelled to comply with a patient’s
request, or to be involved in assisted dying at all.
- That a doctor should not face any criminal, civil, administrative or
disciplinary action for refusing to participate, or for choosing to
- That a doctor is immune from criminal and civil liability, and
disciplinary action for providing treatment that causes death if they have
acted in accordance with the requirements of the legislation in good faith and
- That this immunity be extended to a doctor who is present when the
patient takes the medication.
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