Doctors Opposed to Euthanasia
Archive of press releases issued by Doctors Opposed to Euthanasia.
The group Doctors Opposed to Euthanasia is urging members of the SA Upper House to amend the Advance Care Directives Bill due to be debated during the next parliamentary sitting commencing on the 5th of February.
The bill passed through to House of Assembly late last year.
DOE spokesperson, Dr Timothy Kleinig says that, while DOE applauds the broad intent of the Bill - to allow patients to make explicit their wishes regarding medical treatment - ‘backdoor’ euthanasia may be permitted as an unintended consequence of the Advance Care Directives Bill.
“The Bill as it currently stands allows patients to force health practitioners to intentionally cause death by dehydration and malnutrition, if decision-making capacity is lost,” said Dr Kleinig. “Even worse, the Bill allows relatives to make this decision on a patient’s behalf.”
This potential application of the Bill would violate the consciences of most health practitioners. Provision of food and drink via mouth is not medical treatment. “We and other health professionals are obliged to offer these to all of our patients regardless of their mental capacity, and the Bill must be reworked to reflect this.”
An example of what could occur:
A patient has an ACD advising no nutrition or hydration in the event of lost capacity. The patient is admitted with a mild stroke which causing a receptive dysphasia (loss of comprehension) - a neurological deficit which is often (but not always) temporary. The patient is completely unimpaired in all other respects, but has lost 'capacity'. Doctors and nursing staff are compelled to dehydrate/starve the patient to death, even though the patient appears to want to eat/drink.
Letter to MLCs from DOE is attached.
For further information please contact Dr Kleinig on
In an open letter to all SA Lower House MPs delivered yesterday (18th October), Doctors Opposed to Euthanasia have pointed out that the provisions of Steph Key’s Criminal Law Consolidation (Medical Defences- End of Life Arrangements) Amendment Bill 2011, as amended on the 29th of September will impose ‘a time consuming and unnecessary process’ that will ‘have a detrimental effect upon the care of our patient.’
“The amendments introduced by the Member for Morialta, John Gardner MP, that now form part of the bill will mean that every time there is a change in drug dosage or usage in caring for someone in pain at the end of life, we will be required to obtain two written opinions from two other specialists,” said group spokesperson, Daniel Thomas.
“This is an unnecessary step and one that will create havoc in the medical profession that will likely adversely affect the well being of our patients.”
The group understands that other medical groups have also expressed these concerns.
“As it stands, the bill, in part, attempts to provide protection for doctors going about their normal medical care practice, however, we already enjoy these protections under the 1995 Consent to medical Treatment and Palliative Care Act without this additional bureaucratic burden.” Said Dr. Thomas.
The bill should not proceed further.
19th October 2011
Copy of MPs letter attached.