When writing your submission, you may wish to refer to evidence of findings of scientists or researchers. In the interest of helping people become better informed about the issue of assisted dying, we’ve gathered resources from as many places as we can so that you conduct your own research.
Seales v Attorney-General
Lecretia’s case was important for establishing facts and findings based on international evidence.
Here are the key assertions that experts for Lecretia and experts for the Attorney-General agreed on:
- Palliative care is not 100% effective for everyone
- Palliative care is less effective with non-physical suffering
- Some pain can only be treated with palliative sedation
- It is possible to make a rational decision to die
- The unavailability of AID causes premature death in some terminally ill patients.
Here are the important findings of Justice Collins in his ruling:
- Palliative care cannot provide relief from suffering in all cases.
- Persons with terminal illnesses may take their lives early, while they retain the ability to do so.
- Health professionals’ views on the ethics assisted dying of assisted dying are not unanimous.
- Lecretia’s assertion that she was not vulnerable must be respected.
A full summary of Seales v Attorney General is available on this site.
Euthanasia generally means that a person such as a doctor actively helps to end the life of a person through direct action, e.g. by administering a lethal injection of drugs. Voluntary euthanasia is where this is done with the patient’s explicit consent. These definitions are generally accepted by both advocates and critics of assisted dying laws.
Lecretia supported voluntary euthanasia with explicit patient consent, but did not support involuntary or nonvoluntary euthanasia. However she preferred the term ‘administered aid in dying’ to refer to voluntary euthanasia.
Where the patient takes life-ending medication by themselves that has been prescribed to them by a doctor, opponents tend to use the term assisted suicide. People that support this measure tend to use assisted dying, aid in dying or ‘facilitated aid in dying’. The difference comes about as there is disagreement as to whether this life-ending act is actually suicide. Lecretia herself used the term assisted dying. She did not regard having a choice about how she died as an act of suicide.
In summary, Lecretia supported administered aid in dying and facilitated aid in dying (collectively assisted dying) but only where there is an explicit and consistent request from a competent patient. You might feel differently, and that’s fine. When writing to the committee, it’s important to express your own views.
The following sites may be useful to you.
The Voluntary Euthanasia Society has some helpful information on the various objections to assisted dying and the responses to them.
The BBC has a helpful summary of the current state of assisted dying legislation in various countries.
The Economist has provided a wealth of information and data on assisted dying in various countries.