AMA Victoria statement on the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) Victoria makes the following statement on the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill:

“AMA Victoria recognises the enormity of the impact on the medical profession and our community of this Bill being passed by the Upper House of the Victorian Parliament,” Dr Lorraine Baker, President of AMA Victoria, said today.

“There is no denying that this legislation marks a significant shift in medical practice in Victoria.

“The outcome of this parliamentary vote will cause anguish for many members of our profession, as well as the public. AMA Victoria acknowledges that there are widely disparate views on voluntary assisted dying / euthanasia within its membership, the medical profession as a whole, and throughout the Victorian community. AMA Victoria understands that all such views reflect the authentically and long-held beliefs of the individuals expressing them.

“This legislation will permit Victorians in the terminal stage of an incurable terminal illness, and who are suffering, to have access to a voluntary assisted death. This is a significant change in medical practice and patient care – and requires the strongest safeguards and protections.

“AMA Victoria has actively engaged on this extremely important issue. We made a submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into End of Life Choices, spoke at the related parliamentary hearing, made a submission to the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill discussion paper, attended a number of government stakeholder forums on the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill, and met with a number of Victorian politicians regarding the state of end of life care in Victoria.

“As to our organisation’s position statement, the AMA believes that doctors should not be involved in interventions that have as their primary intention the ending of a person’s life. The AMA also recognises there are divergent views within the medical profession – and some of our members are supportive of voluntary assisted dying, and may choose to be involved in these processes. The conscientious objections provisions in the legislation ensure that no doctor (or other health practitioner) will ever be forced to be involved in Voluntary Assisted Dying if they do not wish to be. It is voluntary for the patient, and their doctor.

“AMA Victoria will now focus on ensuring that the legislation’s implementation process and regulations, in particular of the VAD substance and its controls, are correct, robust and safe for the medical profession and our patients. 2/2 

“AMA Victoria has strongly advocated that voluntary assisted dying cannot be discussed without drawing attention to the need for significant funding to be directed towards palliative care services and our chronically neglected mental health services. All of our MPs, of any political persuasion, must acknowledge that palliative care and mental health services in this state are under-resourced particularly in regional and rural Victoria. This legislation must not continue to draw attention away from these services, and AMA Victoria will continue to call on the Victorian Parliament to work together to improve these vital services as a matter of priority. The Victorian Government’s recent announcement of $62 million for palliative care is a step in the right direction,” Dr Baker said. 



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