Voluntary assisted dying’s ‘prohibitive’ communication laws face GP legal challenge – Michmutters

Voluntary assisted dying’s ‘prohibitive’ communication laws face GP legal challenge

A Melbourne GP is taking legal action against the federal Attorney-General to fight what he calls an “extraordinarily prohibitive” law that prevents doctors from communicating via modern technology with terminally ill patients about assisted dying.

Dying with Dignity Victoria board member Nick Carr said he had pursued legal action in the Federal Court to clarify the definition of suicide in the Commonwealth Criminal Code 1995.

Under the code, it is illegal for a person to discuss suicide through a carriage service, which includes phones, text messages, emails and telehealth services.

Dr Carr said he filed the affidavit after federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus did not respond to a letter warning legal action would be taken if the code was not clarified.

He also said former Attorney-General Michaelia Cash wrote to him in February saying she would not change the code.

Big ends for breaking the law

To be approved for Victoria’s assisted dying scheme, two doctors need to verify a patient has less than six months to live for a physical illness and 12 months for a neurological condition.

But breaking the communication laws can result in ends of up to $222,000 for individuals or $1,110,000 for businesses.


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