(Failed) Voluntary Euthanasia Law Reform in Australia: Two Decades of Trends, Models and Politics

47 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2016 Last revised: 9 Dec 2016

See all articles by Lindy Willmott

Lindy Willmott

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law

Ben White

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law

Christopher Stackpoole

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law

Kelly Purser

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law

Andrew McGee

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2016

Abstract

Within Australia, there have been many attempts to pass voluntary euthanasia (VE) or physician-assisted suicide (PAS) legislation. From 16 June 1993 until the date of writing, 51 Bills have been introduced into Australian parliaments dealing with legalising VE or PAS. Despite these numerous attempts, the only successful Bill was the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995 (NT), which was enacted in the Northern Territory, but a short time later overturned by the controversial Euthanasia Laws Act 1997 (Cth). Yet, in stark contrast to the significant political opposition, for decades Australian public opinion has overwhelmingly supported law reform legalising VE or PAS.

While there is ongoing debate in Australia, both through public discourse and scholarly publications, about the merits and dangers of reform in this field, there has been remarkably little analysis of the numerous legislative attempts to reform the law, and the context in which those reform attempts occurred. The aim of this article is to better understand the reform landscape in Australia over the past two decades. The information provided in this article will better equip Australians, both politicians and the general public, to have a more nuanced understanding of the political context in which the euthanasia debate has been and is occurring. It will also facilitate a more informed debate in the future.

Keywords: Medical Law, Health Law, Voluntary Euthanasia, Physician Assisted Suicide, Law Reform, Politics

Suggested Citation

Willmott, Lindy and White, Ben and Stackpoole, Christopher and Purser, Kelly and McGee, Andrew, (Failed) Voluntary Euthanasia Law Reform in Australia: Two Decades of Trends, Models and Politics (2016). University of New South Wales Law Journal, Vol. 39, No. 1, pp. 1-46, 2016; QUT – Law and Justice Research Paper No. 16-04. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2802398

Lindy Willmott

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, QLD 4000
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://staff.qut.edu.au/staff/willmott/

Ben White (Contact Author)

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, QLD 4000
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://staff.qut.edu.au/staff/whiteb/

Christopher Stackpoole

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, QLD 4000
Australia

Kelly Purser

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, QLD 4000
Australia

Andrew McGee

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, QLD 4000
Australia

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
39
Abstract Views
314
PlumX Metrics