Year: 2000 Source: Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, v.34, no.2, (April 2000), p.318-324 SIEC No: 20010588

This paper critically appraises the argument that requests for active assistance to die should be subject to mandatory psychiatric assessment. This intuitively appealing view is challenged through a broader analysis which examines connections between medicine’s traditional adherence to the moral distinction between acts & omissions & the following issues: the historical relationship between medical practice & dying, the recent development of research into treatment-withdrawal decisions, the scientific status of psychiatry, the logic of rationality & decision-making competence. The analysis revealed a number of hitherto unexamined & unacknowledged influences which would make psychiatric review of requests for assisted death a much less objective & impartial process than is assumed. Mandatory psychiatric review is an instance of the medicalization of death & dying which could abridge the freedom of certain individuals to make decisions about their deaths. (53 refs.)