Oct 27, 2017

Should experts commenting on euthanasia laws have to disclose their religious ties?

At what point, if any, does religious conviction corrupt expert opinion?

Charlie Lewis — Journalist

Charlie Lewis


The debate stretched across the week, on and on. By midnight on Thursday last week, amidst rancour and emotion, a vote still hadn't been finalised. Finally, after a marathon 26-hour sitting, the assisted-dying bill, which allows terminally ill patients to access drugs that can be used to end their lives, passed through the lower house of the Victorian Parliament: 47-37. That was supposed to be the easy part; the bill now faces tight numbers in the upper house.

During the debates over the bill in the lower house, both proponents and opponents sought the buttressing of expert opinion, which is understandable given the sensitivity and complexity of the issue.

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5 thoughts on “Should experts commenting on euthanasia laws have to disclose their religious ties?

  1. lykurgus

    Mate, you are not the first journo who agonised over the question of wether disclosures of interest had to be done.

    But yes.
    And no – this is not different. If your journal submission just happens to be the kind of thing your Pastor would like to read, you have to say so.

  2. Desmond Graham

    No form of disclosure should be made unless volunteered. the merits of varying positions should stand on their own.

    The religion or motives of any opponents is irrelevant – just the same as the motives of the supporters are irrelevant. A lot of supporters had close relatives who had terminal illnesses – were their motives emotional because they felt distressed observers by the stage of the illness OR were they distressed by the distress of their relative OR were they simply distressed by the length of time of survival in face of hopeless odds OR were they distressed they couldn’t access the estate assets earlier? No one knows or should even enquire. The arguments pro& con should stand independently.

  3. Rais

    No harm perhaps in mentioning one’s affiliations when promoting a view but why would you single out only religious affiliations? Any number of other societal connections could affect your opinions. It’s more important to state the reasoning and that any refutation also address the reasoning. It’s a fact that palliative care facilities are seriously lacking in Australia which could affect a sick person’s decision. That needs to be addressed rather than digging out the religious affiliation of a person making perfectly valid and very important point even if the point supports the person’s personal views.

  4. AR

    Surely a perfect example of why we need freedom FROM religion in the public sphere, especially in the legislature.

  5. John Hall

    I don’t like wearing ties. That said it matters not what a persons religion (if any), morals/ethics, political affiliation, personality type etc. If they are professionals in their field it is their opinions based on facts that should be respected. How often does government actually follow those opinions in any case? These are ‘political’ decisions – consider the experts as public servants giving advice. If the press has doubts – publish them.

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