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 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'.
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____________________