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Doctors and lawyers criticise SA euthanasia bill

Doctors say proposed legislation to legalise euthanasia offers no protection for patients.

Opposition is mounting to the latest moves in South Australia to legalise euthanasia.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Law Society of South Australia have already opposed the latest legislation before state parliament.

Now the Christian Medical and Dental Fellowship of Australia (CMDFA) has also spoken out against the bill, which will be subject to a conscience vote later this month.

Supported by Labor MP Steph Key, it would give doctors a legal defence if they accelerated the death of a terminally ill patient whose pain could not be alleviated.

But CMDFA executive officer Michael Burke said last week he was shocked by the serious lack of protection for patients.

"We call for the continued strengthening of palliative care services and their increased accessibility to patients and their families."

Earlier this week the SA Law Society said the bill would decriminalise murder, manslaughter and assisted suicide in certain circumstances.

"The bill is deficient in that it does not have the ordinary safeguards that typical voluntary euthanasia legislation should have," society president Ralph Bonig said.

AMA state president Peter Sharley said existing palliative care legislation already protected doctors, even if their treatment hastened death in an unintended way.

"This bill is really about doctors ending the lives of patients, in other words providing euthanasia," Sharley said.

"Not only that, it 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."


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