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Voluntary assisted dying: A gagging clause that undermines respect for autonomy and the doctor-patient relationship

Doan, Dien (2021) Voluntary assisted dying: A gagging clause that undermines respect for autonomy and the doctor-patient relationship. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

Voluntary assisted dying has long been a controversial topic. Nevertheless, Victoria and Western Australia became one of the first states in Australia to legislate and permit voluntary assisted dying. With the new voluntary assisted dying laws coming into effect, the debate becomes less focused on whether such laws are morally right or wrong to justify legalisation but on which legislative framework is better. The voluntary assisted dying laws clearly outlines stringent requirements for a person to access voluntary assisted dying. However, one particular provision dictates when doctors can and cannot disclose voluntary assisted dying information to a person, which can affect a person’s ability to access voluntary assisted dying (‘the prohibition provision’). There is currently no judicial decision or commentary on the scope and application of the prohibition provision.

Therefore, this Thesis will examine and determine the scope and application of the prohibition provision. The Victorian and Western Australian prohibition provision model differs from one another. There is no literature that thoroughly examines the differences between the two prohibition provisions, nor is there empirical data to indicate which model operates better in medical practice. This Thesis will adopt a comparative approach against a framework drawn upon the concepts of autonomy and the doctor-patient relationship. Those concepts will be solidified through the Australian common law, the Medical Code, and the voluntary assisted dying legislation. Overall, this Thesis will conclude that the Victorian model undermines respect for autonomy and the doctor-patient relationship. In contrast, the Western Australian model supports respect for autonomy and the doctor-patient relationship.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Law and Criminology
Supervisor(s): Dent, Chris
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/63871
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