Thursday, November 15, 2012

Discussion paper: Voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide

Media Release 14 November 2012

How should Australia regulate voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide?

Voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal in all Australian states and territories so friends and family members continue to be prosecuted for assisting their loved ones who request their help to die.

Australia21 will release a discussion paper tomorrow as background to a high level roundtable discussion to be held in January on the topic "How should Australia regulate voluntary euthanasia (VE) and assisted suicide (AS)?”

The authors of the paper are Professor Ben White and Professor Lindy Willmott from the Health Law Research Centre in the Faculty of Law at QUT.

The Chair of Australia21, Mr. Paul Barratt AO said today

"Australia 21 is again promoting dialogue on an issue which stirs strong emotions and on which politicians find themselves in a quandary. On the one hand it would seem that many Australians are keen to see a change in the legal framework surrounding euthanasia and assisted suicide, while on the other hand, efforts to have the issue properly considered by parliamentary committee (often introduced by the minor political parties or cross benchers) have been thwarted by intense lobbying by special interest groups.”

The discussion paper presents dispassionately and without taking sides on the issue, the main arguments in favour of and against legalisation of VE and AS. It summarises international experience on this matter as well as previous efforts in Australia to have the issue debated in state and federal parliaments.

The Roundtable planned for January 2013 will bring together people from both sides of the debate about VE and AS to consider the discussion paper and its key question: “How should Australia regulate voluntary euthanasia (VE) and assisted suicide (AS)?"

NB The … report is embargoed until midday Thursday 15th November when it will be able to be accessed on the Australia21 website

Professor Ben White 07 3138 4066; 0468 682 119
Professor Lindy Willmott 07 3138 5205; 0419 706 214
Professor Bob Douglas AO Roundtable Convenor 0409 233138

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