Doctors endorse WMA position on physician assisted suicide

The Australian Doctors’ Federation (ADF) has endorsed the World Medical Association Declaration on Euthanassia and Physician Assisted Suicide.

At the 70th WMA General Assembly in Georgia in October 2019, the WMA reiterated its strong commitment to the principles of medical ethics and the upmost respect for human life, “therefore the WMA is firmly opposed to euthanasia and physician assisted suicide”.

Chairman of the ADF, Dr Aniello Iannuzzi said of immediate concern was any attempt or any legislation, regulation, guideline or unwritten directive that coerced, forced or pressured any doctor to participate in euthanasia or physician assisted suicide.

Our concerns also extend to any attempt, policy or regulation that forces, encourages, implies or incentivises doctors to raise the issue of assisted suicide with patients particularly those who are at the end stage of their life.

Many parliamentarians and other well-meaning people believe they are ‘facilitating an end to suffering with legislation’ such as the VIC Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017. Similar legislation is now being proposed in WA.

In reality, such legislation has the ability to create fear in the most vulnerable patients including the aged, chronically ill and indigenous Australians. It can also be abused in an over-crowded public hospital and aged care system.

The ADF maintains that the medical profession’s reputation for saving lives and treating the most vulnerable will be irreparably damaged by legislation that seeks to use the profession to mask the stark realities that licensed euthanasia presents, and the ethical issues it leaves unanswered e.g. why is the medical profession being used to facilitate death when this role could be taken by any person appropriately trained including public servants?

The ADF supports quality palliative care for all Australians. It is possible for patients to have a peaceful death with compassionate and effective use of palliative care. The ADF does not support legislation which would lower the confidence and trust between doctors and vulnerable patients. The ADF will oppose any attempt to coerce doctors or patients to prematurely end a life.


Dr Aniello Iannuzzi Chairman ADF 02 9567 5595
Stephen Milgate CEO ADF 0425 283 411

In Memory of Dr John Meredith Harrison AM (1944-2019)
17 Australians Awarded Bruce Shepherd Medal for Services To Independent Medicine

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