In November 2016, the Australian Medical Association, which represents about a third of medicos in this country, updated its Position Statement on what it calls "Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide". We prefer the less emotive term "Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD)." Why?
- to emphasise the fact that it is voluntary. No person will be compelled to undertake this procedure.
- to focus on the person who is dying rather than the doctor
- to avoid association with the perniciously emotive term suicide.
While not coming out in favour of VAD, at least the AMA has acknowledged there are 'divergent views' within the medical profession and that it is up to society and the government to decide and make laws about VAD. Among other things, the Statement says:
- All dying patients have the right to receive relief from pain and suffering, even where this may shorten their life.
- The AMA believes that doctors should not be involved in interventions that have as their primary intention the ending of a person’s life.
- The AMA acknowledges that laws in relation to euthanasia and physician assisted suicide are ultimately a matter for society and government.
- If governments decide that laws should be changed to allow for the practice of euthanasia and/or physician assisted suicide, the medical profession must be involved.
Read the full Statement here (2 pages).