Proposed Law on Euthanasia in Victoria

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Euthanasia law is a question of philosophy and medical science. Philosophers have consistently argued whether it was proper for people to terminate their lives willingly. The main dilemma however is the circumstances that would be acceptable for this practice. Euthanasia touches more on social morality than law[1]. The arguments for euthanasia are more related to biomedical ethics, philosophy and religion. The constitutional right for the practice must therefore take consideration on how each of the proposed disciplines would be affected[2]. Euthanasia is defined as intentionally ending the life of a person by another one by the will of the requestor[3]. The greatest problem with legislation of the proposed law on euthanasia is whether it would be acceptable across all relevant disciplines and whether it would contravene some provisions in the constitution such as the right to life. It would also be difficult to establish conditions under which euthanasia would be acceptable and how would be proved different from suicide which is already illegal[4]. Some people argue that those patients seek to end their lives due to excessive pain should administer painkillers. However, physicians should assess the possible positive or negative effects of pain killers[5].

Ancient philosophers also had contradicting opinions about euthanasia. Socrates for example passionately supported one’s own decision to die, while Aristotle discredited his arguments. Aristotle argued that suicide was illegal as it contravened the civic duty that the civilians owed to the nation. Religious philosophers, especially the Christians sharply criticized Socrates’ arguments citing that it was a transgression of the will of the creator[6]. Currently, there is a problem of difference in opinions among Victorian residents on whether euthanasia should be legislated[7]. Pressure groups are lobbying the Victorian authorities to change the law and legalize euthanasia. Australian churches as well as the Australian Medical Association are opposed to this argument. While those opposing legislation of the new law cite religious teachings and sanctity of life, proposers argue that there is need and right of a person to die well without anguish and sufferings[8]. The legislation in Victoria among other Australian states, gives statutory rights to a person to refuse treatment which serves as another option of death at will….”

[1] Griffiths J Weyers H Adams M and Adams M, Euthanasia and law in Europe (Hart Publishing, 2008) 181.

[2] Griffiths J Weyers H Adams M and Adams M, above n, 1.

[3] The Belgian Act on Euthanasia of May, 28th 2002.

[4] Neeley G S ‘The Right to Self-Directed Death: Reconsidering an Ancient Proscription’ (1995) 35 Catholic Law 111.

[5] R v Martin (2004) 69 CLR 71.

[6] Taqi A, Euthanasia: is it really a bad idea. Anaesthesia, Pain & Intensive Care, (2012)16(3), 226-229.

[7] Mendelson D, ‘Medico-Legal Aspects of the ‘Right to Die’ Legislation in Australia’ (2013) 19 Melbourne University Law Review 112.

[8] Mendelson D, above n, 7.

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