Voluntary euthanasia has become an issue of religious, philosophical, legal and human rights in Australia. Due to the lack of awareness about voluntary euthanasia, people tend to confuse it with just euthanasia. It is crucial for today’s society to understand what voluntary euthanasia is defined as, the effects of it, the current law in Australia, and what societies role is.
Defining voluntary Euthanasia:
The term Euthanasia refers to ‘the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or if the patient is in an irreversible coma.’ 1 The word euthanasia comes from geek meaning ‘good death’. Voluntary euthanasia gives the suffering person the right to request to end their life and to die with dignity. The word Voluntary defines as someone proceeding with a certain act intentionally.
The effects of voluntary Euthanasia:
There are three categories of Euthanasia: involuntary euthanasia which refers to ending a life against the will of the person suffering, non-voluntary euthanasia which refers to the termination of life without the consent of the person and voluntary euthanasia is when a life is ended at the request of the person suffering2. Voluntary Euthanasia provides a way to relieve extreme pain, Frees up medical funds to help other people and it is another case of freedom of choice3. These are just some examples that support the fact of legalising voluntary euthanasia. Voluntary Euthanasia not only effects the patient suffering pain, however it also effects the general public.
The current law in Australia:
Several attempts have been made to legalise voluntary euthanasia in parts of Australia, however as the present laws stand, it is a crime for doctors and nurses to assist in voluntary euthanasia4. At the moment there are already political parties in Australia who support the legalisation of euthanasia, some of these parties include: Australian Greens, the Secular Party of Australia, Australian Democrats and the Liberal Democratic party5. A survey was conducted by (T Khalid, 2015), where 30 year 12 students were asked ‘should euthanasia be legalised in Australia?’ suggested that 77% of them agreed to this statement and the remaining 23% disagreed. The following graph represents the results:
Nitschke an Australian humanist believes ‘it is a fundamental human right for every adult of sound mind, to be able to plan for the end of their life in a way that is reliable, peaceful & at a time of their choosing.’6
Society’s role in voluntary euthanasia:
Society plays a major role in understanding to request voluntary euthanasia. The issue that arises from this is that as a society, voluntary euthanasia controls demographic and medical context. Another issue that arises from voluntary euthanasia in todays society, is failing to understand religious beliefs. There are many religions that forbid suicide, however the debate is that people believe voluntary euthanasia is not committing suicide, instead you are requesting someone else to do it for you. While suicide is defined as taking one’s own life by one’s own hands7.
People suffering from disease face many difficulties in life. Society fails to understand the pain that the a person goes through, which causes the patient to suffer to death. It is important for people to understand the use of voluntary euthanasia, and to encourage the government to legalise it.