Voluntary Euthanasia and the Common Law

By Margaret Otlowski | Go to book overview

5
The Changing Climate for Reform

INTRODUCTION

The object of this chapter is to examine the changing climate for reform with regard to active voluntary euthanasia. This involves consideration of a number of related issues: (i) public opinion which appears to be increasingly in support of the legalization of active voluntary euthanasia performed by doctors for terminally ill or incurable patients; (ii) the development of voluntary euthanasia organizations campaigning for the legalization of active voluntary euthanasia; and (iii) developments within the medical profession indicating growing support for the concept of active voluntary euthanasia. Although these areas of change are very much interrelated, for the purposes of exposition, it will be necessary to deal with them separately. This chapter is accordingly divided into three parts: part I dealing with opinion polls, part II dealing with the voluntary euthanasia movement, and part III tracing changes within the medical profession.


I. PUBLIC OPINION

Although there have, over time, been some fluctuations in public opinion on the issue of active voluntary euthanasia, opinion polls undertaken in the various common law jurisdictions under consideration indicate growing public support in favour of its legalization.


A. United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, opinion polls on the subject of active voluntary euthanasia date back to the 1930s. During that decade, the issue of legalization of active voluntary euthanasia had been brought to public attention through the activities of the newly established Voluntary Euthanasia Society in London and the concerted attempts at legislative reform made in 1936.1 According to a Gallup Poll conducted in 1938, 62 per cent of those polled believed that 'those suffering from an incurable disease should be allowed the option, under proper medical safeguards, of voluntary death',

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1
See p. 269 below.

-257-

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Voluntary Euthanasia and the Common Law
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Acknowledgements xiv
  • Contents xv
  • Table of Cases xxi
  • Introduction 01
  • 1 - Euthanasia Under the Criminal Law 12
  • 2 - Suicide and Assisted Suicide 56
  • 3 - The Position in Practice: Doctors' Practices and the Law Applied 127
  • 4 - The Euthanasia Debate 187
  • 5 - The Changing Climate for Reform 257
  • 6 - Moves Towards Reform 333
  • 7 - The Netherlands 391
  • 8 - Options for Reform 456
  • Conclusion 494
  • Appendix 503
  • Select Bibliography 520
  • Index 553
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