The Case Against Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

New Zealand Law Review, Forthcoming

41 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2016

See all articles by Rex Ahdar

Rex Ahdar

University of Otago - Faculty of Law

Date Written: March 2016


The arguments in favour of legalising voluntary euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide initially appear convincing. We should, it is said, respect people’s autonomy, euthanasia is a compassionate response to unbearable suffering, it has (supposedly) worked well in those nations that have implemented it, and so on. But on closer analysis, the arguments are far less persuasive. Such a new law is unnecessary given the current legal ability of all but the most incapacitated to take their own life and the availability of palliative care. Any euthanasia law — even one carefully drafted with requisite safeguards — is susceptible to noncompliance and vulnerable to abuse. Moreover, any law would face the ineradicable reality of self-imposed pressure the vulnerable experience to “do the right thing”. This article sets out ten reasons why euthanasia should not be legalised and contends that the case for decriminalising it has not been made out by the proponents of it.

Keywords: voluntary euthanasia, assisted suicide, legalisation, PAS

JEL Classification: K39

Suggested Citation

Ahdar, Rex, The Case Against Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (March 2016). New Zealand Law Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

Rex Ahdar (Contact Author)

University of Otago - Faculty of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 56
Dunedin, Otago 9010
New Zealand

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