Double Effect and Palliative Care Excuses

White, Ben, McDonald, Fiona, & Willmott, Lindy (Eds.) Health Law in Australia (Third Edition). Thomson Reuters, Pyrmont, New South Wales, pp. 625-646

Posted: 28 Aug 2018

See all articles by Ben White

Ben White

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law

Lindy Willmott

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 17, 2018

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. The emerging practice of palliative sedation which is aimed at managing the patient’s refractory symptoms may be lawful, depending on the circumstances of the case. Palliation provided to a competent patient who has chosen to stop eating and drinking may be lawful, depending on the circumstances of the case.

Suggested Citation

White, Ben and Willmott, Lindy, Double Effect and Palliative Care Excuses (August 17, 2018). White, Ben, McDonald, Fiona, & Willmott, Lindy (Eds.) Health Law in Australia (Third Edition). Thomson Reuters, Pyrmont, New South Wales, pp. 625-646. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3233396

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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