The South Australian President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) Dr Peter Sharley and President of the Law Society of South Australia Mr Ralph Bonig this week intervened in the South Australian euthanasia debate, issuing a statement  opposing amendments to the Criminal Consolidation Act that would offer doctors legal immunity for deliberately ending patient’s lives.

Dr Sharley and Mr Bonig say the Bill has a serious lack of protection for patients.

“There is no proper process, witness, second opinion or required documentation. A doctor could carry out ‘treatment’ which effectively kills the patient with only the word of the doctor as evidence,” the statement said.

The AMA(SA) said the legislation has been progressed by stealth with no proper informed community debate.

“It tells you something is wrong when a doctors’ organisation is saying that the doctor is being given too much power, and that the patient does not have enough protection,” he said.

The ACL has been concerned about legalising euthanasia in Australia because evidence shows that where voluntary euthanasia is legalised, euthanasia without consent follows. It is also likely to take away the imperative for Governments to adequately fund palliative care.

Euthanasia involves the deliberate killing of a patient using a lethal substance which is very different from the quite legal and compassionate practice of relieving a patient’s pain even if it does hasten death.

The ACL’s Lyle Shelton recently participated in a debate on this issue in New South Wales and his speech can be found on our website “Why euthanasia should not be legalised”.