In high school, I remember sitting in my legal studies class.
We were discussing euthanasia.
Fast forward four years, and I cant remember my stance on the issue at the time. However, this video may help you figure out yours.
This is Curiosity Killed the Journalist on Euthanasia.
Euthanasia is basically someone choosing to end their horrific suffering because they have an incurable medical disease.
There are moral arguments on the issue, which is basically the right to life against the right to die with dignity.
A report by the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2016 asks, aren’t doctors supposed to be healers? It also points out that there is a slippery slope – that potentially there could be involuntary euthanasia or that euthanasia may be performed in non-terminal cases.
They counter these arguments, however, with personal autonomy. They also point out that this practice is already occurring, so why not make it as safe as possible?
Euthanasia is illegal in Australia. It was briefly legal in the Northern Territory in the late 90’s. The Commonwealth constitutionally overrode this by creating the Euthanasia Laws Act 1997.
However, with states now exercising their sovereignty, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said that the federal government has no power to intervene.
“States are sovereign in their own right and as such we can make laws for the state of Victoria. The right of the Victorian parliament to do this work should be respected by everybody,” he said.
Even PM Turnbull, who said whilst he wouldn’t vote for euthanasia, it was “very much a conscience vote.”
A bill was narrowly defeated in South Australia. Victoria is fighting for a bill, which will most likely go to a vote later this year. And, in the great state of New South Wales, a draft bill has been proposed which is supposed to reach the NSW Upper House in August.
The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill will be available to those over 25 years of age, who are expected to die in the next 12 months, are physically incapacitated or experiencing severe pain.
MPs from the Coalition, Greens, Labor and an independent, led by National Trevor Khan, have joined forces on this bill, which has been in the works for 12 months.
“Is it fair and reasonable that a person has to choose to starve themselves to death to bring an end to their suffering? That’s an appalling choice that’s presented to people now,” Mr Khan said to news.com.au.
Mr Khan and his team have considered the several possibilities and concerns when it comes to euthanasia, and so they’ve put several safeguards in place to ensure there was no abuse in the system
A patient must request three times that they want to be euthanized, which includes a formal written request. The person making the request must be of sound mind.
After the person in question has been accessed by their primary doctor, a specialist and either a psychologist or psychiatrist, two medical practitioners must approve the decision. Close family also has the right to appeal the decision. After the two doctors sign off on the euthanasia, there is a 48-hour cooling off period, where the patient can change their mind.
Talk surrounding the draft bill started in January. The then Premier Mike Baird disagreed with the idea.
He said, “While I fully acknowledge the sincerity of those who support change, and the terrible pain that is suffered by many terminally ill people and their carers, I myself will not support any change to the law.”
He then spoke of an experience where he was door knocking in his district and had the opportunity to speak to some terminally ill people.
“While this hasn’t changed my mind, it has given me a clear understanding that there are two sides of this issue, and that all views deserve respect.”
Opposition Luke Foley had very much the same opinion, saying that if a assisted dying bill came before the Legislative Assembly, he would vote against it.
“I worry about the message it sends to a society where some old and frail people feel that they are too much of a burden on their loved ones, that they have to end it all.”
This doesn’t seem to match the view of Australians, however. A Newspoll conducted in October 2011 indicated that 77% of Aussies were in favour of legalizing voluntary euthanasia. Only 18% were against. A change.org petition also hit 51,000 signatures calling for the government to legalise euthanasia.
Those who wish to end their suffering would either be allowed to administer the drug themselves, or be assisted by a medical practitioner or nominated person.