The cases for and against legalised euthanasia have been spinning around the national consciousness for decades, but in the past couple of years, Australia has undergone some serious soul-searching about how to best accomodate assisted dying – if at all.
Well, in reaction to shifting attitudes towards the practice, a newly-commissioned survey from the Australian Medical Association may cement the peak body’s stance on the issue.
While the exact findings of the 4,000-strong responses haven’t yet been released, the ABC reports several members of the AMA suggest the findings could shift their official take into “neutral” territory.
That’s a far cry from their current position, which states doctors shouldn’t be involved in any practices that have the “primary intention” of ending a patient’s life.
If the AMA did adopt that neutral standpoint and altered their wording on the issue to essentially allow leeway for physicians to act upon their patients’ wishes – and their conscience – it’d still require a massive change in Australia’s laws for it to become legal.
The survey also coincides with National Palliative Care week; in a statement, the AMA’s Vice President, Dr Stephen Parnis reiterated it was a time for reflection, and that “talking about dying won’t kill you.”
For what it’s worth, the majority of Australians do support the case for euthanasia in some way, and the cause boasts several high-profile campaigners.
Earlier this year, Andrew Denton‘s podcast Better Off Dead served as a catch-all on the topic and demonstrated how humanely the process is handled in jurisdictions where it is legal.
Bob Hawke, bless him, also had a red-hot crack at the issue, saying opposition to the practice “doesn’t meet any requirements of morality and good sense”.
The exact change to the AMA’s policy – if any – should be unveiled later on in the year. If it chooses not to take a side, it’d be a dramatic – and, arguably, much-needed – change to the official perception of the practice in the medical community.
Photo: Christian Marquandt / Getty.