Voluntary assisted dying bill defeated in NSW upper house

SMH, 16 November 2017
Author: Sean Nicholls
“State MPs have voted down a bill to introduce voluntary assisted dying laws in NSW following a full day of emotional debate. The bill was defeated in the Legislative Council by 20 votes to 19 in a vote that took place just after 11pm on Thursday.”
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Voluntary stopping of eating and drinking: is medical support ethically justified?

BMC Medicine 2017 15:186
Authors: Ralf J. Jox, Isra Black, Gian Domenico Borasio, Johanna Anneser†
“Physician-assisted dying has been the subject of extensive discussion and legislative activity both in Europe and North America. In this context, dying by voluntary stopping of eating and drinking (VSED) is often proposed, and practiced, as an alternative method of self-determined dying, with medical support for VSED being regarded as ethically and legally justified.”
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Euthanasia: an emphatic no from this GP

MJA Insight, 30 October 2017
Author: Jane Barker
“What troubles me is that I feel that there is a presumption that euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (PAS) are a doctor’s role – indeed, could it morally, ethically and legally be performed by any other professional? – but that somehow the question of whether we would want to play this role and how it should be regulated has not been fully discussed with us.”
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Assisted dying is one thing, but governments must ensure palliative care is available to all who need it

The Conversation, 24 October 2017
Author: Stephen Duckett
“Assisted dying moved one step closer to reality in Victoria last week with the authorising bill passing the lower house with a comfortable 47-37 majority. Throughout the debate, many MPs spoke of terrible personal experiences of the deaths of family members. Such harrowing stories were also present in submissions to the parliamentary inquiry into end-of-life choices, that recommended an assisted dying regime leading to the bill.”
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Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act: 20 Years of Experience to Inform the Debate

Ann Intern Med. 2017;167(8):579-583.
Authors: Katrina Hedberg, Craig New
“Twenty years ago, Oregon voters approved the Death With Dignity Act, making Oregon the first state in the United States to allow physicians to prescribe medications to be self-administered by terminally ill patients to hasten their death. This report summarizes the experience in Oregon, including the numbers and types of participating patients and providers. These data should inform the ongoing policy debate as additional jurisdictions consider such legislation.”
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Ethics and the Legalization of Physician-Assisted Suicide: An American College of Physicians Position Paper

Ann Intern Med. 2017;167(8):576-578.
Authors: Lois Snyder Sulmasy, Paul S. Mueller; for the Ethics, Professionalism and Human Rights Committee of the American College of Physicians
“Calls to legalize physician-assisted suicide have increased and public interest in the subject has grown in recent years despite ethical prohibitions. Many people have concerns about how they will die and the emphasis by medicine and society on intervention and cure has sometimes come at the expense of good end-of-life care. Some have advocated strongly, on the basis of autonomy, that physician-assisted suicide should be a legal option at the end of life. As a proponent of patient-centered care, the American College of Physicians (ACP) is attentive to all voices, including those who speak of the desire to control when and how life will end. However, the ACP believes that the ethical arguments against legalizing physician-assisted suicide remain the most compelling.”
Find position paper here.

Dutch geriatrician faces charges over euthanasia case

BMJ 2017; 359: j4639
Author: Tony Sheldon
“A specialist in elderly care medicine could face prosecution under the Netherlands’ euthanasia laws after ending the life of a 74 year old nursing home patient with advanced dementia. The woman was considered no longer competent to consent but had previously signed a living will requesting euthanasia. Yet Dutch public prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation, claiming a “serious suspicion” that a criminal offence had been committed. This is the Netherlands’ first such investigation under the reporting arrangements established in the 2002 euthanasia law.”
Find article here.