Law Reform Commission of Western Australia
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Project 84 - Medical treatment for the dying

Project No. 84

Commenced: 1986
Completed: 1991

As a result of developments in recent decades, modern science can often substantially prolong life, even in respect of diseases for which there is no long-term cure. However, many illnesses and conditions eventually reach a point of hopelessness, such that there is neither any prospect of the patient being cured nor any prospect of a further period of life with reasonable quality.

The Attorney General asked the Commission to consider whether the law in Western Australia required clarification or amendment.

Terms of Reference

In 1986 the Commission was asked to review the criminal and civil law in so far as it relates to the obligations to provide medical or life supporting treatment to persons suffering conditions which are terminal or recovery from which is unlikely. In particular, it was asked to consider whether medical practitioners or others should be permitted or required to act upon directions by such persons against artificial prolongation of life. The reference did not seek to address the issue of euthanasia.


The Medical Care of the Dying Bill (WA), which was intended to implement many of the recommendations in the Commission’s report, was introduced into the Legislative Assembly in March 1995. It was considered in Committee in May 1996.

The Commission was asked to give advice on drafts of the Medical Treatment for the Dying Bill. The bill, retitled as the Acts Amendment (Consent to Medical Treatment) Bill 2006 has recently been introduced into Parliament.

Last updated: 31-Jan-2017

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