You are on page 1of 4


Good morning/afternoon, fellow classmates.

Weve all heard the phrase the right to life which plays a part in an abundance
of issues; however the phrase the right to death is something we hear
considerably less often. Euthanasia as its otherwise known the practice of a
person ending their life with the assistance of another, has become the subject
of much debate in Australia in the last couple of decades. Although closely
related, euthanasia differs from suicide because usually there are more people
involved, such as doctors and family, and this is where most of the controversy
surrounds. Logically, a person that commits suicide cant be punished, however if
there are people involved in someones suicide, whether it be a doctor providing
advice on how to commit the act, or family members surrounding their loved one
in their final moments, these persons can potentially become criminals under
certain circumstances due to Australias current laws on euthanasia. And not to
forget the very core of the issue, there is no professional availability of
euthanasia in Australia. There is no established system that allows for a person
to safety have their life ended. So Im going to be examining the different
perspectives of the issue to address the question of should such a system be
But first, a bit of history:
In comparison to other countries..
The earliest Australian euthanasia advocacy organisations arose in 1973 in NSW
and Victoria, although significant events in Australian euthanasia history didnt
begin until the 90s. The most notable event would have to be in 1995, where
euthanasia was briefly legalised in the Northern Territory until early 1997 when it
was repealed, which allowed terminally ill patients the option to end their lives,
and during this period 3 people decided to do so. Aside from this legalisation,
and despite continuous efforts to reintroduce similar legislation, we have
remained euthanasia-free since. It is also worth noting that since there has been
rise of pro-euthanasia groups, as a result a number of anti-euthanasia groups
have formed over the years. Such as Right to Life Australia, a group called
NOHOPE and unsurprisingly, the Australian Catholic Church has voiced
opposition to the idea. All these organisations are a testament to how were still
quite divided on the issue.
So, why is there opposition to people wanting to end their lives and a reluctance
to change laws?
I think thats the question my introduction begs, and thats something I myself
was eager for an answer to coming into this subject. I found the Right to Life
Australia organisation clearly presented their point of view, and the arguments
against are certainly things to consider, I found.

The very core of the anti-euthanasia position can be summarised with the idea
that doctors simply shouldnt have the power over deciding whether or not
somebody should die. This view is clearly expressed in the argument: Voluntary
euthanasia inevitably leads to involuntary euthanasia. If euthanasia gets
legalised, it then gives rise to the possibility of doctors making the decision for
patients, and potentially getting away with it. In countries where euthanasia is
legal, this is not an unknown occurrence. A commonly cited country is the
Netherlands. Euthanasia has been legal in the Netherlands since the 70s, and
come 1991 the first official governmental study of the practice was published,
titled the Remmelink Report. It revealed that out of 8681 patients that received
the procedure over the last couple of decades, 5981 of them died without proper
I was quite shocked by this statistic, and I dont think its too emotive of me to
say that. However what it also caused me to question was - if within a system of
euthanasia, involuntary euthanasia is a real threat to patients, what is the antieuthanasia solution to the demand/request of euthanasia?
Well its along the lines of
Voluntary euthanasia is unnecessary because alternative treatments exist.
One argument is that we often interpret the issue of Euthanasia as either or,
there being only two options, with those being leaving a patient to suffer in
their final days, or put them out of their misery via euthanasia. This argument
proposes that theres a third option, and thats palliative care, which is where
doctors and nurses make an effort to make a patients last days peaceful through
thorough care and medication. It can be supplied through a hospice and theres
also home care. It does not intent to extend or shortening a persons lifespan,
but to make their final days easier.
It is further argued that virtually all pain experienced by a suffering patient can
be relived due to old and recent developments in medicine, and therefore
euthanasia is viewed as an unnecessary procedure, since typically its in demand
from those that are suffering. It is acknowledged that obviously there are cases
where people dont receive this care, but their solution still stands as to
encourage further recognition and use of this type of care rather than making
the leap to euthanasia. A point is also made that in the Netherlands, as I touched
on before, they tend to have less of these hospice/palliative care facilities, and
theres a lot of public support for it. However in the UK where hospice facilities
are plentiful, euthanasia remains illegal. What they imply from this is that
societies where theres more available palliative care, opinion shifts against
euthanasia and if we were to give this idea more of a chance, ours would and
should to.
So as we can see from these two arguments, as easy as it is to interpret the antieuthanasia movement as unethical, selfish, you name it, the reality is its just a

different perspective of what it means to be compassionate. Though anti-choice,

they still have peoples best interest in mind.
All things considered, lets now move onto the pro-euthanasia side of things.
Pro-euthanasias big argument can be summarised with the right to choice. They
believe it is ultimately a violation of a persons innate rights if they are deprived
from choosing death, and as such are of the opinion that this option should be
available for people whom want it. And by this they mean a safe, effective and
ultimately peaceful death. Exit International is one organisation that clearly
defines this view with their slogan A Peaceful Death is Everybody's Right. And
an interesting thing to note about that is by, everyone, they mean everyone
not just the sick and terminally ill.

I feel its quite easy to misjudge the opposing side of euthanasia, because when
we look at it as a black and white question should somebody be able to end
their lives? to answer no really makes someone look like an asshole.
Assisted suicide can lead to a maximum of a 5 year prison sentence. [retrieved 26 March] [retrieved 26 March] [retrieved 26