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.”
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Does the doctrine of double effect apply to the prescription of barbiturates? Syme vs the Medical Board of Australia

J Med Ethics, September 2017
Author: Xavier Symons
“The doctrine of double effect (DDE) is a principle of crucial importance in law and medicine. In medicine, the principle is generally accepted to apply in cases where the treatment necessary to relieve pain and physical suffering runs the risk of hastening the patient’s death. More controversially, it has also been used as a justification for withdrawal of treatment from living individuals and physician-assisted suicide. In this paper, I will critique the findings of the controversial Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) hearing Syme vs the Medical Board of Australia. In that hearing, Dr Rodney Syme, a urologist and euthanasia advocate, was defending his practice of prescribing barbiturates to terminally ill patients.”
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As Victorian MPs debate assisted dying, it is vital they examine the evidence, not just the rhetoric

The Conversation, 20 September 2017
Authors: Ben White, Andrew McGee, Lindy WIllmott
“A starting point is to distinguish between claims that something should or should not happen (a moral claim about right and wrong), and claims that something is or is not happening (a factual or empirical claim). This distinction matters, because what justifies each type of claim is different.”
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Euthanasia survey hints at support from doctors, nurses and division

SMH, 24 June 2017
Author: James Robertson
“Most NSW doctors and nurses support a controversial medical euthanasia bill headed for Parliament, according to research that could prompt new debate about the medical fraternity’s willingness to accept changes to assisted suicide laws.”
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Assisted Dying & Disability

Bioethics. 2017, doi:10.1111/bioe.12353
Author: Riddle, C. A.
“This article explores at least two dominant critiques of assisted dying from a disability rights perspective. In spite of these critiques, I conclude that assisted dying ought to be permissible. I arrive at the conclusion that if we respect and value people with disabilities, we ought to permit assisted dying.”
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Aid-in-Dying Laws and the Physician’s Duty to Inform

JME Blog, 22 March 2017
Author: Mara Buchbinder
“Why do so many people assume that any clinical communication about aid-in-dying (AID, also known as assisted suicide), where it is legal, ought to be patient-initiated? Physician participants in my ongoing study tend to assume that physicians should wait for patients to initiate discussions of AID. The clinical ethics literature on communication about AID has reinforced this expectation by focusing on how to respond to patient requests. Consequently, bioethics has largely remained silent on whether there is a professional duty to inform terminally ill patients about AID laws and their clinical and legal requirements.”
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In places where it’s legal, how many people are ending their lives using euthanasia?

The Conversation, 3 March 2017
Author: Andrew McGee
“The Victorian Parliament will consider a bill to legalise euthanasia in the second half of 2017. That follows the South Australian Parliament’s decision to knock back a voluntary euthanasia bill late last year, and the issue has also cropped up in the run-up to the March 11 Western Australian election. With the issue back in the headlines, federal Labor’s justice spokesperson, Clare O’Neil, told Q&A that in countries where the practice is legal, “very, very small” numbers of people use the laws.”
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Ruling on assisted dying drug Nembutal sets important precedent

The Conversation, 28 February 2017
Author: Simon Chapman
“Just before Christmas 2016, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) handed down a historic judgement in a case brought by the veteran advocate for assisted dying, Dr Rodney Syme. This followed a decision, which was then referred to its immediate action committee by the Medical Board of Australia, to prevent Syme from “engaging in the provision of any form of medical care, or any professional conduct in his capacity as a medical practitioner that has the primary purpose of ending a person’s life”.”
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