Hard cases make bad law

Dr. Rodney Syme is publicising yet another sad and sorry case in his attempt to have assisted suicide and euthanasia legalised. Ray Godbold’s “existential despair” cannot justify changing our prohibition against killing another person. Are requests for assisted suicide truly autonomous, truly free, informed and considered or can they be the result of depression, or a sense of being worthless, or a burden to others, or pressure from relatives, or inability to afford medical treatment?

The cornerstone of our Legal and Medical Institutions is the prohibition on intentional killing. It protects everyone on the basis that we are all equal and all have the same right to life. We do not have a “right” to die and we protest over the State deciding when and how we will die, as evidenced in the loud and clear protests over the two Australians executed in Indonesia recently.

Our current law is that no one has the right to intentionally kill another person and it is an offence in every State to assist a person to commit suicide. These laws protect the right to life of everyone, especially the vulnerable and those with a disability.

Do we want to go into the murky world of discriminatory judgments about whose life is “worth living” and whose is not?

Last week in Parliament, Dr Rachel Carling-Jenkins said that less than 50% of us have access to palliative care. The answer is to improve the quality and availability of end-of-life care so that people do not die, or fear they will die, in distressing conditions.

Note: Dr Rodney Syme's comments were published in The Age at http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/right-to-die-dr-rodney-syme-hands-patient-ray-godbold-lifeending-medication-20150510-ggv5bl.html.


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