The South Australian Branch of the Australian Medical Association recently circularized a commentary on two bills proposed for the South Australian Parliament by the Member for Fisher, The Hon Bob Such MP.
One bill, the Ending Life with Dignity Bill 2013 is already under debate in the Lower House whilst the Consent to Medical Treatment and Palliative Care (Withdrawal of Nutrition and Hydration) Amendment Bill 2013 has been tabled but we are yet to see the text.
According to the letter, Dr Such had provided copies of both bills to the AMA.
In an unusually frank manner, the AMA letter is scathing in its criticism:
"It is of significant concern that these bills appear to have major elements that are ill-conceived, indicate a fundamental lack of understanding of current concepts in end-of-life care, and show a confusion in understanding of the critical difference between palliative care and euthanasia. They have the potential to confuse and compromise the provision of good end-of-life care, with resulting distress to patients and their families."
The letter goes on to cite examples from each bill that highlights the above mentioned concerns; the AMA adding that, "The above are merely two examples in Bills that we consider to be flawed overall and which we do not believe should advance in any form." Strong words.
The letter then proceeds to contrast the consultations over the Advance Care Directives Bill 2012 (over two years in consultation) noting that Such's bills are, 'not the products of acceptable levels of consultation and engagement.' It is worth mentioning here for non-South Australian readers that there is no mandated review committee in the process of debate for any bill in this state.
We have previously noted our concerns with the Advance Care Directives Bill 2012 and the AMA whilst supportive of that bill makes such support contingent upon amendments 'advised to us in January 2013'. We are not aware of what form or effect these amendments will take, however, the bill has now close to passing the Second Reading stage in the SA Upper House and will, no doubt, move shortly to debating amendments.
Do the AMA comments sound the death knell for Such's bills? Given Dr Such's claim that the Ending Life with Dignity Bill 2013 ‘is as tight as it can be made’ does this mean that this is his last attempt? I somehow doubt it. It certainly should give us hope that this bill will be defeated - but even here we should not be complacent.
Both bills still require diligent attention and your letters!
If you live in South Australia and have yet to write to MPs on both these bills, CLICK HERE for more information.
To purchase Alex Schadenberg's book: Exposing Vulnerable People to euthanasia & assisted suicide CLICK HERE.
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