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The Fear of Abuse Objection

Adapted from SAVES — South Australian Voluntary Euthanasia SocietyThe following Fact Sheet has been prepared by the South Australian Voluntary Euthanasia Society (SAVES). For further information visit their website at The Fear of Abuse

OBJECTION 6 – Any law permitting voluntary euthanasia would be liable to abuse because

either: 1. Relatives or others could collude with the doctor to murder the patient for financial gain or to be rid of a nuisance, or 2. Patients could be, or could feel, pressured to ask for euthanasia when they really wish to go on living. Answer 1: The possibility of collusion to murder a frail, elderly and perhaps fatally ill patient (or even to falsify the diagnosis) already exists. It would not be increased when voluntary euthanasia is legalised because of the requirement for a second independent medical opinion and a detailed report. Answer 2: Voluntary euthanasia would not be euthanasia on demand, but based on very careful medical assessment. Doctors would have to be satisfied that the patient’s condition was, for the patient, intolerable. They would also be required to assess whether a patient’s request was free as well as enduring. The open discussion among those concerned (significant others and health care workers) that would be part of this process would provide sound protection.

Further Points:

Doctors have no vested interest, professional or financial, in the death of a patient. On the contrary, they make their living and gain kudos and professional satisfaction from maintaining the health and well being of their patients for as long as practicable. A desire not to be a burden on the State or one’s loved ones is a legitimate concern, and should not be mistaken as evidence of abuse. Medically supervised voluntary euthanasia under guidelines endorsed by the High Court has been available in the Netherlands for more than ten years. There have been no court cases arising from abuse of the type described above and there continues to be strong public support there for voluntary euthanasia. Thus the claim that its availablility will lead to abuse does not appear to be well founded. —- Further information contact SAVES at: Or contact: Hon Secretary, SAVES, PO Box 2151, Kent Town, SA 5071, Australia – Fax + 61 8 8265 2287