Euthanasia, Ethics, and Public Policy: An Argument against Legalisation

By John Keown | Go to book overview

14
The Northern Territory: ROTTI

The Northern Territory (NT) is a vast but sparsely populated area in Australia, occupying a sixth of the continent but with a population of less than 200,000. In 1995, its legislature of twenty-five enacted (by a small majority) the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act ('ROTTI').1 The Act permitted both PAS and VAE.


ROTTI

ROTTI was a long and complex Act. This chapter will first outline its main provisions and then consider whether they were any more capable of preventing abuse than the Dutch guidelines.

The Act stated that it sought 'to confirm the right of a terminally ill person to request assistance from a medically qualified person to voluntarily terminate his or her life in a humane manner; to allow for such assistance to be given in certain circumstances without legal impediment to the person rendering the assistance' and 'to provide procedural protection against the possibility of abuse of the rights recognised by this Act'.


The patient's request

Section 4 provided that a patient who 'in the course of a terminal illness' was experiencing 'pain, suffering and/or distress to an extent unacceptable to the patient' could 'request the patient's medical practitioner to assist the patient to terminate the patient's life'. The Act defined 'terminal illness' as an illness which 'in reasonable medical judgment will, in the normal

____________________
1
Northern Territory of Australia, Act No. 12 of 1995. For an overview of development sin Australia see John Fleming, 'Death, Dying and Euthanasia: Australia versus the Northern Territory' (2000) 15 Issues Law Med 291.

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Euthanasia, Ethics, and Public Policy: An Argument against Legalisation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Foreword xiii
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Table of Cases xvi
  • Abbreviations xviii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Definitions 7
  • 1 - 'Voluntary Euthanasia' 9
  • 2 - Intended V. Foreseen Life-Shortening 18
  • 3 - 'Physician-Assisted Suicide' 31
  • Part II - The Ethical Debate: Human Life, Autonomy, Legal Hypocrisy, and the Slippery Slope 37
  • 4 - The Value of Human Life 39
  • 5 - The Value of Autonomy 52
  • 6 - Legal Hypocrisy? 58
  • 7 - The Slippery Slope Arguments 70
  • Part III - The Dutch Experience: Controlling Vae? Condoning Nvae? 81
  • 8 - The Guidelines 83
  • 9 - The First Survey: the Incidence of 'Euthanasia' 91
  • 10 - Breach of the Guidelines 103
  • 11 - The Slide Towards Nvae 115
  • 12 - The Second Survey 125
  • 13 - The Dutch in Denial? 136
  • Part IV - Australia and the United States 151
  • 14 - The Northern Territory: Rotti 153
  • 15 - Oregon: the Death with Dignity Act 167
  • Part V - Expert Opinion 181
  • 16 - Expert Committees 183
  • 17 - Supreme Courts 191
  • 18 - Medical Associations 208
  • Part VI - Passive Euthanasia: Withholding/withdrawing Treatment and Tube-Feeding with Intent to Kill 215
  • 19 - The Tony Bland Case 217
  • 20 - Beyond Bland: the Bma Guidance on Withholding/withdrawing Medical Treatment 239
  • 21 - The Winterton Bill 260
  • Conclusions 273
  • Afterword: the Diane Pretty Case 282
  • Bibliography 292
  • Index 303
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