Ethical Rights

...because it's right to be ethical


Euthanasia Introduction

  1. If the ACT were to seek to have the Commonwealth of Australia’s Euthanasia Laws Act 1997 repealed, or circumvent the regulatory restrictions placed on it by that Act, it would join Victoria and many jurisdictions overseas in having a regulated regime for voluntary euthanasia. These jurisdictions recognise the right of people to end their lives peacefully, humanely and with dignity. This would be an important step towards a moral and civilised outcome for all of Australia. 
  2. The ethical arguments for voluntary euthanasia, including a regulatory regime in the ACT, are compelling if they are considered on their merits, as rights issues. Regulatory issues can be addressed and have been successfully addressed overseas. This appendix considers the major ethical and regulatory issues that have been raised in voluntary euthanasia discussions.
  3. The ethical considerations could be simplified to a matter of individual choice for people of sound mind. Consequently, those who oppose euthanasia, especially conservative religious groups, should not be able to deny other Australians the right to choose. Only each individual knows how much pain, suffering or indignity he or she can bear. A denial of rights through imposing one’s religious beliefs on others is a policy that even Barack Obama, using abortion as an example, deplored. He said

‘if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God’s will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all’[1].

  1. A similar argument applies to voluntary euthanasia.
  2. In Part A of this appendix, I examine arguments in support of voluntary euthanasia, supporting the rights of individual citizens and the desirability of a supportive regulatory regime. In Part B, I rebut the main arguments against voluntary euthanasia. 
  3. These arguments stand on their own if they are considered as much as possible with an open mind, objectively and devoid of cultural and religious bias. The consequence of this is that individual rights should be upheld and the ACT Government should work to develop a more supportive environment for people at the end-of-life. 


[1]      See ashbrook.org/publications/oped-knippenberg-08-obama/, accessed 29 January 2018.


David Swanton


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