How Should Australia Regulate Voluntary Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide?
Journal of Law and Medicine, 20, pp. 410-438, 2012
Posted: 10 Jul 2016
Date Written: 2012
This paper invites consideration of how Australia should regulate voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide. We have attempted to pose this question as neutrally as possible, acknowledging that both prohibition and legalisation of such conduct involve decisions about regulation. We begin by charting the wider field of law at the end of life, before considering the repeated, but ultimately unsuccessful, attempts at law reform in Australia. The situation in Australia is contrasted with permissive jurisdictions overseas where voluntary euthanasia and/or assisted suicide are lawful. We consider the arguments for and against legalisation of such conduct along with the available empirical evidence as to what happens in practice both in Australia and overseas. The paper concludes by outlining a framework for deliberating on how Australia should regulate voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide. We ask a threshold question of whether such conduct should be criminal acts (as they presently are), the answer to which then leads to a range of possible regulatory options.
Keywords: Voluntary euthanasia, Assisted suicide, Law reform, Health law, Medical law, End of life decision making, Australia 21
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