Does the Vic VAD Act fulfil its stated policy goals?

Does the Vic VAD Act fulfil its stated policy goals? This academic paper by Ben White et al says no.
The paper lists six policy goals:

  • respect all human life
  • respect personal autonomy
  • safeguard the vulnerable and the community
  • provide high-quality care
  • respect individual conscience
  • alleviate human suffering (compassion)

Two of these were particularly dominant in framing the VAD Act: respecting autonomy and safeguarding the vulnerable and the community.

The paper concludes that “Limiting practitioner administration of VAD to those who are physically unable to administer or ingest the medication themselves is not consistent with the policy goals of the VAD Act. In particular, respecting autonomy and providing high-quality care would favour allowing eligible persons to choose whether to receive VAD by self-administration or from their medical practitioner. This allows a person both greater choice as to the manner of their death and access to the safer of the two options. Arguments about safeguarding the vulnerable lack traction in this setting, given that practitioner administration is permitted by the VAD Act with appropriate safeguards, therefore recognising practitioner administration as a safe VAD option.

The full article is attached here.

[Source/Acknowledgement: UNSW Law Journal]

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