AMA STATEMENT ON EUTHANASIA AND PHYSICIAN ASSISTED SUICIDE 2016
With plans announced in Victoria for that State to legalise Euthanasia the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has issued a statement putting forward its position in relation to how Doctors should respond to Euthanasia. The statement in part says:-
1. Good quality end of life care and the relief of pain and suffering.
1.1 Doctors (medical practitioners) have an ethical duty to care for dying patients so that death is allowed to occur in comfort and with dignity.
1.2 Doctors should understand that they have a responsibility to initiate and provide good quality end of life care which: strives to ensure that a dying patient is free from pain and suffering; and endeavours to uphold the patient’s values, preferences and goals of care.
1.3 For most patients at the end of life, pain and other causes of suffering can be alleviated through the provision of good quality end of life care including palliative care that focuses on symptom relief, the prevention of suffering and improvement of quality of life. There are some instances where it is difficult to achieve satisfactory relief of suffering.
1.4 All dying patients have the right to receive relief from pain and suffering, even where this may shorten their life.
1.5 Access to timely, good quality end of life and palliative care can vary throughout Australia. As a society, we must ensure that no individual requests for euthanasia or physician assisted suicide simply because they are unable to access this care.
1.6 As a matter of the highest priority, governments should strive to improve end of life care for all Australians through: the adequate resourcing of palliative care services and advance care planning; the development of clear and nationally consistent legislation protecting doctors in providing good end of life care and increased development of, and adequate resourcing of, enhanced palliative care services, supporting general practitioners, other specialists, nursing staff and carers in providing end of life care to patients across Australia.
2. Patient requests for euthanasia and physician assisted suicide
2.1. A patient’s request to deliberately hasten their death by providing either euthanasia or physician assisted suicide should be fully explored by their doctor. Such a request may be associated with conditions such as depression or other mental disorders, dementia, reduced decision making capacity and/or poorly controlled clinical symptoms. Understanding and addressing the reasons for such a request. The AMA supports nationally consistent legislation which holds that a doctor responsible for the treatment or care of a patient in the final phase of a terminal illness, or a person participating in the treatment or care of the patient under a medical practitioner’s supervision, incurs no civil or criminal liability by administering or prescribing medical treatment with the intention of relieving pain or distress: a) with the consent of the patient or the patient’s representative; and b) in good faith and without negligence; and c) in accordance with the proper professional standards; even though an incidental effect of the treatment may be to hasten the death of the patient. A doctor responsible for the treatment or care of a patient in the final phase of a terminal illness, or a person participating in the treatment or care of the patient under the doctor’s supervision is under no duty to use, or to continue to use, life sustaining measures which are of no medical benefit in treating the patient if the effect of doing so would be merely to prolong life.
2.2 Euthanasia is the act of deliberately ending the life of a patient for the purpose of ending intolerable pain and/or suffering. Physician assisted suicide is where the assistance of the doctor is intentionally directed at enabling an individual to end his or her own life. A request will allow the doctor to adjust the patient’s clinical management accordingly or seek specialist assistance.
2.3 If a doctor acts in accordance with good medical practice, the following forms of management at the end of life do not constitute euthanasia or physician assisted suicide: not initiating life prolonging measures; not continuing life prolonging measures; or the administration of treatment or other action intended to relieve symptoms which may have a secondary consequence of hastening death.
3. AMA position on euthanasia and physician assisted suicide
3.1 The AMA believes that doctors should not be involved in interventions that have as their primary intention the ending of a person’s life. This does not include the discontinuation of treatments that are of no medical benefit to a dying patient.
3.2 The AMA recognises there are divergent views within the medical profession and the broader community in relation to euthanasia and physician assisted suicide.
3.3 The AMA acknowledges that laws in relation to euthanasia and physician assisted suicide are ultimately a matter for society and government.
3.4 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 in the development of relevant legislation, regulations and guidelines which protect: all doctors acting within the law; vulnerable patients such as those who may be coerced or be susceptible to undue influence or those who may consider themselves to be a burden to their families, carers or society; patients and doctors who do not want to participate; and the functioning of the health system as a whole.
3.5 Any change to the laws in relation to euthanasia and/or physician assisted suicide must never compromise the provision and resourcing of end of life care and palliative care services.
3.6 Doctors are advised to always act within the law to help their patients achieve a dignified and comfortable death.
Reproduction and distribution of AMA position statements is permitted provided the AMA is acknowledged and that the position statement is faithfully reproduced noting the year at the top of the document.
NSW PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE CALLS OUT SAFE SCHOOLS FOR NOT CONSULTING PARENTS
Pressure on state governments to respect parents’ rights to opt out of the “Safe Schools” program is heating up with the release of a damning report produced by a New South Wales Parliamentary committee. The Safe Schools program introduces children to queer theory teaching children their gender is fluid. It encourages schools to allow biological males to use girls’ toilet and change facilities and urges teachers not to refer to children as boys or girls. A report into the sexualisation of children and young people, from the NSW Parliamentary Committee on Children and Young People, has recommended that the Department of Education require schools to consult with parents prior to any implementation of the “Safe Schools” program and require that parents choose whether to opt in to it.
It also recommends that parents should be given the right to withdraw their child from the program at any stage. Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) spokesperson for Children, Wendy Francis, welcomed the recommendations but said the program, which is based on Marxist ideology and gender theory, should be scrapped. “Nonetheless, the Committee’s recommendations will put pressure on all state governments to explain why they are yet to implement parental consent measures mandated by Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham,” Ms Francis said. “The states have had 8 months to sort this out and parents are still in the dark about the consent process,” she said. “The NSW and other state governments should act swiftly in response to this report if they want to restore trust with parents.
“Parents have a right to decide what is best for their children, including in their education. It is clear that Safe Schools is on the nose with parents. The ACL calls on state governments to ensure that a transparent parental consent process is put in place prior to the 2017 school year,” Ms Francis said. She warned that even if the committee’s recommendations were implemented, it would be difficult for parents to completely opt out of the program because “Safe Schools” was now interwoven into the curriculum. “One of the challenges of giving parents a choice to opt out of Safe Schools is that queer themes are laced throughout the curriculum and propagated through policies, posters and school assemblies,” she said.
“The government will have a hard time disentangling schools from discredited queer theory. It highlights why ‘Safe Schools’ should never have been introduced in the first place.” The recommendations come amid increasing pressure from the community to scrap the program. In August a 17,000 signature petition from the Chinese-Australian community against Safe Schools was tabled in the NSW parliament. The NSW Department of Education has also hidden the list of schools involved. Parental concerns led to a Federal Government directive in March to change some aspects of the program including the requirement that parents be consulted. The research underpinning Safe Schools has been discredited in a report by Sydney University Professor Patrick Parkinson who warned that it was flawed and misleading.
PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS ONLINE PORN FILTER TO PROTECT CHILDREN
Momentum is gathering for available technology to be used to protect children from porn after a New South Wales parliamentary inquiry recommended the introduction of internet filtering. The parliament’s report into the sexualisation of children and young people called for State Attorney General, Gabrielle Upton, to advocate for a national opt-in internet filtering program through the Law, Crime and Community Safety Council which advises the Council of Australian Governments. The NSW committee’s recommendations come as a Senate inquiry also considers the harm being done to Australian children through access to pornography on the internet.
In welcoming the report’s recommendations, the Australian Christian Lobby’s (ACL) spokesperson for the dignity of women and children, Wendy Francis, said there was mounting evidence that pornography had harmful impacts on children. “Confirming widely available knowledge, the inquiry found that pornography is shaping young people’s sexual understandings, expectations and practices,” Ms Francis said. “It is imperative that we act to stop the intergenerational damage this is causing, particularly through domestic violence and sexual abuse.” Ms Francis said it was encouraging that the committee had recognised the need to take action to protect children. “The ACL would like to see a universal ISP-level ‘clean-feed’ which allows adults to opt-out of the filter in a similar way to the UK regime,” Ms Francis said.
Ms Francis went on “The ACL believes it would be hard for Australian attorneys general to ignore the overwhelming evidence contained in this report which underlines the effectiveness of internet filtering. Talking to children about what they see online is important but it is often too little, too late given the ubiquity of children’s access to devices which are connected to the internet. As a community we must not only teach children healthy attitudes towards women and sex, we also need to protect children from unhealthy material which is beyond the ability of parents or guardians to control.” Internet filtering has operated successfully in a number of other countries, including the United Kingdom.
The need for internet filtering has been building for the past decade in Australia particularly under the Rudd Government which in 2007, with the support of the ACL and other family groups, advocated for clean-feed internet filtering. Under pressure from internet providers and the pornography industry, it decided not to proceed in 2012.
Editor’s note: On Sunday 5th February we celebrate Christian Heritage Sunday in Australia. Following is the story of the first Christian service on Australian soil. For further stories on Australia’s Christian heritage go to www.chr.org.au and www.nchs.net.au
The first Christian service on Australian soil was conducted under a tree on a grassy hill. It was described as an impressive occasion. Careful preparations were made, the convicts being ordered to ‘appear as clean as circumstances will admit…’ and ‘No Man to be Absent On Any Account’ The guard was to be changed earlier than usual, so as to give those who had been relieved ‘time to cleanse themselves before Church’, and the ‘Church Drum’ was to beat at 10 o’clock. The service took place on 3rd February 1788. The Fleet had been in Sydney Cove the previous Sunday, 27th January, but no service was held until some semblance of order had been created on shore.
Richard Johnson Chaplain to the Colony of NSW would have been impressed by the nature of this occasion and would have chosen his text and prepared his sermon with care. The content of the sermon has not survived but the text was Psalm 116 verse 12: ‘What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?’ This verse is set in a context which was appropriate for the occasion as it reflects the experience of someone who has undergone severe and repeated sufferings but has survived to give thanks to God for his safe deliverance. Johnson would have drawn his congregation’s attention to the way in which the experience of those who had arrived in the First Fleet was parallel to the experience of the psalmist, and then gone on to urge them to respond to God’s benefits in the way suggested.
By verse 13; ‘I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord’, the sense of relief at having finally landed in an area that at least looked comparatively promising would have given Johnson the opportunity to speak to both convicts and soldiers in a meaningful way and this would account for the manner in which the congregation responded. The service was well received. Reports state that the behaviour of both the troops and convicts was ‘attentive’. Two weeks later on February 17, Johnson celebrated the first Communion in the colony. The service was held in Lieutenant Ralph Clark’s tent, borrowed for the occasion. The event was recorded by Clark in his journal. ‘I will keep this Table also as long as I live for it is the first Table the Lords Supper was eaten from in this country’