Double Effect and Palliative Care Excuses
In White, Benjamin P., McDonald, Fiona, & Willmott, Lindy (Eds.) Health Law in Australia [2nd ed.]. Thomson Reuters, Pyrmont, NSW, pp. 593-608, 2014
Posted: 19 Jul 2016
Date Written: 2014
The doctrine of double effect is an exception to the general rule that taking active steps that end life is unlawful.
The essence of the doctrine at common law is intention.
Hastening a patient’s death through palliative care will be lawful provided the primary intention is to relieve pain, and not cause death, even if that death is foreseen.
Some States have enacted legislative excuses that deal with the provision of palliative care.
These statutory excuses tend to be stricter than the common law as they impose other requirements in addition to having an appropriate intent, such as adherence to some level of recognised medical practice.
Keywords: Palliative care, Double effect, End of life decision-making, Health law, Medical law
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation