The Doctrine of Double Effect

In White, Benjamin P., McDonald, Fiona, & Willmott, Lindy (Eds.) Health Law in Australia. Thomson Reuters Australia, Sydney, pp. 491-506, 2010

Posted: 19 Jul 2016

See all articles by Ben White

Ben White

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law

Lindy Willmott

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

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: Health law, Medical law, Palliative care, Doctrine of double effect, End of life decision-making

Suggested Citation

White, Ben and Willmott, Lindy, The Doctrine of Double Effect (2010). In White, Benjamin P., McDonald, Fiona, & Willmott, Lindy (Eds.) Health Law in Australia. Thomson Reuters Australia, Sydney, pp. 491-506, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2808891

Ben White (Contact Author)

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, QLD 4000
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://staff.qut.edu.au/staff/whiteb/

Lindy Willmott

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, QLD 4000
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://staff.qut.edu.au/staff/willmott/

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