Private Thoughts of Public Representatives: Assisted Death, Voluntary Euthanasia and Politicians

Journal of Law and Medicine, 11(1), pp. 77-92, 2003

Posted: 10 Jul 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

Date Written: 2003

Abstract

Assisted death and voluntary euthanasia have received significant and sustained media attention in recent years. High-profile cases of people seeking assistance to end their lives have raised, at least in the popular press, debate about whether individuals should be able to seek such assistance at a time when they consider their suffering to be unbearable or their quality of life unsatisfactory. Other recent developments include a number of attempts to legislate on the issue by the minor parties in Australia and the successful enactment of legislation in a few overseas jurisdictions. However, despite all of the recent attention that has focused on assisted death and voluntary euthanasia, a discussion of the adequacy of existing laws has not made it onto the political agenda of any of the Australian State or Territory governments. This is in spite of the fact that the private views of the majority of our elected Members of Parliament may be supportive of reform. This article explores the role of politicians’ views and, as a case study, considers the opinions expressed by a number of Queensland Members of Parliament. In light of the views of these politicians and those of members of the public, as well as considerations arising from current medical practice, the article argues that there is a need for open political debate on assisted death and voluntary euthanasia. The article also suggests ways that such a debate may be achieved while minimising any political impact on governments that are prepared at least to consider this issue.

Keywords: Euthanasia, End of life decision-making, Conscience vote, Law reform

Suggested Citation

Willmott, Lindy and White, Ben, Private Thoughts of Public Representatives: Assisted Death, Voluntary Euthanasia and Politicians (2003). Journal of Law and Medicine, 11(1), pp. 77-92, 2003. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2806853

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/

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