Euthanasia new practice: AMA
WA may need to create a different type of practitioner for administering voluntary euthanasia, the Australian Medical Association’s WA branch will suggest to a Parliamentary committee today.
AMA WA president Dr Omar Khorshid told The West Australian yesterday that the suggestion, which stemmed from a symposium the organisation held on the divisive voluntary assisted dying issue, was an important consideration in the debate about the role of doctors in end-of-life choices.
Concern was raised by AMA members that doctors have a responsibility after taking the Hippocratic oath, and administering a euthanasia drug would come into conflict with that.
“There is a view, amongst some of the doctors at the symposium and the AMA council, that voluntary euthanasia is not medicine and that someone else AMA WA president should do it — patients, families or another practitioner,” Dr Khorshid said.
“We’d prefer selfadministration — if you’re talking about autonomy, then that’s the ultimate autonomy.
“For those people who can’t administer it themselves, should it be a doctor, should it be another type of practitioner — that’s a debate we need to have.”
Of the members at the symposium, about half supported some level of voluntary assisted dying for terminally ill patients.
Dr Khorshid said the number of people opposed to change increased after the event.
In his second appearance before the parliamentary inquiry, Dr Khorshid said he planned to advise the committee to take more time on the complex issue, potentially delaying the issue beyond the next State election.
The hearing will be one of the last of the long-running inquiry, which is set to report in August this year.
It has set records for the number of submissions from members of the public about the divisive issue.
“Although the committee was of the opinion that they could learn from the international experience from the Victorian committee, we found hearing from international experts a really powerful experience,” Dr Khorshid said. “I’ll be saying to them they should whether go overseas or bring people to them to learn about the experience in other jurisdictions.”
He also warned the committee the issue was complex and safeguards would be critical. “They shouldn’t be creating an expectation in the community that they can click their fingers and there will be euthanasia in a year or two,” he said.
‘We’d prefer self administration — if you’re talking about autonomy.’