Medicine is becoming a one-way street. If a patient wants to refuse treatment in order to die–sacrosanct! That’s fine. But it should work both ways. Nope. Increasingly, if a patient wants treatment to extend life–not your call!
We are watching the slow motion imposition of a duty to die. Formal health care rationing is an example. But I think the greater threat is the imposition of an ad hoc duty to die in Futile Care Theory that allows doctors and hospital bioethicists to refuse to extend the lives of patients who they don’t think have lives worth living. (Here is an article I wrote explaining the concept.)
Futile care has led to much litigation around the world. So now, futilitarians are passing laws granting doctors the legal authority to impose their values on patients and families. Texas comes to mind in the USA.
Now, in South Australia, a new law will explicitly authorize doctors to refuse life-extending treatment–and there appears nothing that the patient or family will be able to do about it. From the Journal on Law and Medicine article: