Current positions of Australian medical and healthcare bodies on voluntary assisted dying laws
- Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation
- NSW Nurses and Midwives Federation
- Australian Medical Students Association
- WA Primary Health Alliance
The following professional organisations are neutral on assisted dying. They neither support or oppose VAD laws. This acknowledges the divergent views within their membership and allows them to effectively contribute their expert knowledge to the development of safe and effective assisted dying laws.
- Palliative Care Australia
- Royal Australasian College of General Practitioners
- Royal Australasian College of General Physicians
- Public Health Association Australia
Australian Medical Association - 2016 Position Statement
The Australian Medical Association is currently opposed to voluntary assisted dying laws “The AMA believes that doctors should not be involved in interventions that have as their primary intention the ending of a person’s life”.
However, the position statement also notes:
The AMA recognises there are divergent views within the medical profession and the broader community in relation to euthanasia and physician assisted suicide.
The AMA acknowledges that laws in relation to euthanasia and physician assisted suicide are ultimately a matter for society and government.
It is time for the AMA to revisit its position, given the passage of VAD laws in two Australian states and the recent change to a neutral position by the RACGP, RACP and Palliative Care Australia. We call on the AMA to conduct an independent survey of its members and consider whether its opposition to VAD laws is consistent with its stated commitment to patient centred care given that community support for VAD now stands at 85%.
While the AMA purports to be the peak Australian medical body, its members comprise only one quarter of Australian doctors and it cannot claim to speak for the profession as a whole.
The case for neutrality
At the heart of the case for neutrality is that the legalisation and regulation of assisted dying should be a matter for society as a whole to decide, and no particular group within it should have a disproportionate influence on this decision. Healthcare professional organisations committed to shaking off the paternalism of the past should not use their influence to impose the beliefs of some of their members on patients: it is inconsistent with the idea of ‘patient-centred care’ and the principle of ‘no decision about me without me’.