Aug 28, 2012

Who will first have the right to die? The fraught euthanasia landscape

With the tragic case of SA mother Joanne Dunn and her comatose son in the news, Sarah Duggan examines the legal landscape on euthanasia and finds Tasmania may be the closest to legalising the practice.

The case of South Australian mother Joanne Dunn, who has asked doctors to stop feeding her comatose son Mark in order to let him die, has rekindled interest in euthanasia — and law reform could be closer than you think.

Mark Leigep, who is 37, has been in a vegetative state since March 2006 after sustaining head injuries in a car crash. Current laws prohibit voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide in all states and territories, so the only legal option left for Dunn is to effectively starve her son to death.

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6 thoughts on “Who will first have the right to die? The fraught euthanasia landscape

  1. Venise Alstergren

    An excellent article Sarah; informative and thoughtful. Tank you.

    With the stats being as high as three out of four Catholics, four out of five Anglicans, and nine out of ten non-religiously aligned, it surprises me that the MSM reporting of this subject results in letters of outrage predominantly against euthanasia.

    I don’t feel optimistic about Victoria doing anything, mainly because Peter Ryan, State leader of the National Country Party and deputy Premier, wields enormous clout over the state Coalition government and its pathetic leader, Mr Ted Baillieu.

  2. CML

    With numbers like you have quoted, Sarah, why do we put up with our elected representatives ignoring the will of the people? Surely they do not have the right to do that.

  3. Damian Lloveda

    My Grandfather was given this same fate. Although he was 79 with lung cancer i watched him emaciate in palliative care slowly but surely. I want to spare the details but this is the first time i have ever written or even thought about his state. Moaning and groaning, i do not wish it upon anyone. I believe that most may have experienced this in their lives but push it to the back of their conciousness. As if others know best. Yet i remind myself that the only constant is change and that the powers that be aren’t in the business of changing things but rather the society must ask/demand/fight for such justice.

  4. AR

    Never underestimate the greed & coercive power of (prospective) heirs. It was only a generation ago that suicide was illegal, anyone surviving being incarcerated in asylums.

  5. Venise Alstergren

    AR: True, but that in no way validates the prolonging of life, frequently in agony, and in a vegetative state, of those people who wish to have access to euthanasia.

  6. S Andrew

    @CML because we have freaks like the ACL making a louder noise.

    With an ageing population, it is inevitable that euthanasia will be legalised. I for one cannot wait to sign up, given my family medical history.

    Reading the comments above and drawing on personal experience, we have a moral obligation to let terminally ill people die with grace and dignity in tact.

    Another great article, Sarah. Well done.

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