When it comes to death and dying, you already have choices!
Under laws currently in force in Western Australia:
- Everyone has the right to decide which medical treatments they will and will not receive. If a person believes that a medical treatment will not give them reasonable benefits or imposes unreasonable burdens, then they can legally refuse that treatment or ask for it to stop. Even if this means certain death. This is not euthanasia.
- You can exercise this right even if you become unconscious or non-competent. In WA, you can make your wishes known in an Advance Health Directive or by appointing someone to hold your Enduring Power of Guardianship. (For further information, please click here.)
- If a terminally ill person is in pain, a doctor can legally administer medically-indicated pain relief or sedation even if this has a secondary effect of shortening their life. This is not euthanasia.
- At any time, even if you are not terminally ill, you can access palliative care.
Palliative care neither hastens nor delays death. Rather it helps terminally ill people live as well as they can through their final months, weeks or days.
Palliative care addresses each person’s unique physical, emotional, spiritual or social needs. The best palliative care surrounds each patient with a multidisciplinary team trained and experienced in the latest palliative techniques. Individual GPs may be part of the team, but generally they are not trained in specialised palliative practices.
The latest palliative techniques, delivered at the right time by the right team, mean that no-one today needs to die in pain. As one commentator says, “if my pain makes me want to die, then my pain is not being managed effectively.”
Best palliative care does not offer euthanasia as an option. It aims only to care, never to kill.