Menu

Euthanasia in Australia

0 Comment

Presently, in Queensland, the only two laws that deal with end of life are Advance Health Directive and the Power of Attorney Act 1998. In fact, both the laws are insufficient to seek the help of others for assistance. Compared to other states in Australia, Queensland has more restrictions on the use of Advance Health Directive, which result in hindering individual freedom to healthcare. While other states use Advance Health Directive to overcome the restrictive statutory regime, Queensland uses the statutory regime to restrict the freedom under Advance Health Directive. Thus, Queensland authorities are more orthodox about the sanctity of human life than other states are. However, the mere fact is that through the amendment to the Queensland Criminal Code 1899, the territory has unofficially allowed room for euthanasia. It becomes evident that the existing laws in Queensland show double standard. On the one hand, it stands totally against the right to end ones own life unlike other states in Australia. This is evident from the fact that it has imposed greater restrictions on Advance Health Directive. On the other hand, it introduced amendments to Criminal Code to help health practitioners escape prosecution by allowing palliative care to the extent of foreseeable death but not intended death. However, the mere fact is that these rules and regulations are not water-tight. In other words, there arise a lot of legal issues associated with the present day stance of the authorities in this regard. It becomes evident that the Criminal Code of 1899 as amended in 2003 gives room for euthanasia on one hand, and punishes the ones who help in the same on the other. The Advance Health Directive and statutory regime- a failed purpose Admittedly, the only purpose of Advance Health Directive (AHD) is to allow individuals to decide their future course of treatment if they are incapable of taking independent decisions in future. As Willmott (2007) points out, unlike other states, Queensland has more rules and regulations regarding the applicability of AHD. The Power of Attorney Act (1998) (QLD) declares that in order to proceed with the AHD to remove life-sustaining measures. one of the four conditions should be met: the patient has a terminal illness from which death is certain. the patient is in a vegetative state. the patient is permanently unconscious. or the patient has such an illness or injury from which patient is highly unlikely to recover. Thus, the Queensland regulation evidently kills an adult’s right to self-determination as the legislation shows more attachment towards the medical principle of sanctity of life. Davis (2009) argues that a look into the English law proves that the right to self-determination is given more importance than the principle of sanctity of life. In the case, Bland was in a vegetative state and the court allowed removal of life-supporting treatments to facilitate his death (ibid). However, in Queensland, an adult can fill advance health directive but it will operate only if it is in harmony with the common law. That means, in Queensland, for an advance health directive to operate, it should meet criteria like a sufficiently poor state of health, lack of prospects of recovery, and consistency with good medical practice. However, in other states, it is irrelevant to consider the fact that the adult would have lived for an extended period of time and made a full recovery if life-sustaining measures were given. In other words, if there is a valid AHD, the medical practitioner would not legally be allowed to provide such good medical practices which could prolong or save the life of the patient. Another important limitation, according to Willmott et al (2006) is that in Queensland, self-determination