The Eastern Palliative Care Statement on Euthanasia is as follows.
Eastern Palliative Care:
- Defines Palliative Care as care that provides coordinated nursing, medical and allied health services for people who are facing a life limiting illness. This care is delivered, where possible, in the environment of the person’s choice and provides physical, psychological, social, emotional and spiritual support for clients, families and their friends. The scope of Palliative Care includes grief and bereavement support for the client and family or other carers during the life of the client and after the client’s death.
- Believes that adequately funded Palliative Care services should be available to everyone in need of such services.
- Believes that dying is a natural process and that declining or withdrawing overly burdensome or ineffective treatment is acceptable.
- Holds that Palliative Care practice does not include the deliberate ending of life, even if this is requested by the client.
- Is committed to supporting clients and their families regardless of their decisions. We invite open discussion with the client and their family regarding their values, goals and the nature of suffering.
- Acknowledges that, while much can be achieved by Palliative Care to relieve physical pain and to provide social and emotional support, human suffering is often a complex and difficult experience.
- Will provide evidence based symptom management that seeks to respect the client’s preferences.
- Recognises that, while some people desire to control the dying process either by requesting a deliberate ending of life or by requesting futile treatment, and some may fear that Palliative Care may involve deliberately ending life, the role of Palliative Care is to offer reasonable means to relieve discomfort and to support the person in the dying process, not to influence when death will occur. Palliative Care seeks to neither prolong nor hasten the dying process.
- Recognises that the wide divergence of views about Voluntary Assisted Dying and euthanasia in Australian society and the fears about death and dying demand an informed response about the capacity of Palliative Care to assist people to live with dying.
- Welcomes open and frank discussion within the community and the health professions about all aspects of death and dying including Advance Care Planning, and the importance of basing those discussions on accurate information about Palliative Care.
- Opposes the practice and the legalization of Voluntary Assisted Dying and euthanasia, because of inherent risks to individuals and society, and because this would compromise the ethos of Palliative Care in Australia.
- Will provide all clients with the care, support and respect to which EPC is committed whether or not they choose to explore or access voluntary assisted dying.
For a definition of Palliative Care please refer to the World Health Organisation definition as at September 2015: World Health Organisation
[Approved Committee of Management 28 September 2015]
Voluntary Assisted Dying is defined as: The prescription and administration of voluntary assisted dying substances and includes formal assessment and steps reasonably related to such administration.
Euthanasia is defined in the EPC Code of Ethics as: – By euthanasia we mean any action or omission which of itself and by intention causes death with the purpose of eliminating all suffering.