FACT: A 2018 report commissioned by Palliative Care Australia found that the palliative care sector has been further advanced in overseas jurisdictions where voluntary assisted dying is legal.

Palliative Care Australia commissioned a report on the international experience of legislation of assisted dying on the palliative care sector. The final report is dated 28 October 2018.

The report found:

“An assessment of the palliative care sectors following the introduction of assisted dying for each of the in-scope jurisdictions provided no evidence to suggest that the palliative care sectors were adversely impacted by the introduction of the legislation. If anything, in jurisdictions where assisted dying is available, the palliative care sector has further advanced.”

“Tracking of assisted dying patients indicates that a very high majority of patients have had access to palliative care. This runs counter to the argument that assisted dying may be used by patients in circumstances where palliative care is not available…”

“…there is no evidence that assisted dying has substituted for palliative care due to erosion of safeguards…”

“An identified risk is the lowering of thresholds by physicians to accept patient requests for assisted dying without active review of the potential for this request to mask other concerns (e.g. symptom control, uncertainty about the future and financial concerns). Whilst the trend for requests for assisted dying has increased over time in both the Netherlands and Belgium, there is no evidence this is due to reduced thresholds. Primary reasons postulated include wider acceptance by the medical community and increased rates of requests by some patient groups including those with life-limiting conditions beyond cancer.”

“Noting the ability of practitioners and organisations to ethically oppose assisted dying, the palliative care sector will have a role in facilitating access to information or referrals to an alternative provider who is prepared to meet the patient’s request.”

Read the full report here.