Voluntary Euthanasia and the Common Law

By Margaret Otlowski | Go to book overview

6
Moves Towards Reform

INTRODUCTION

The foregoing chapter has concentrated on the changing climate for reform within the medical profession and the community generally on the issue of active voluntary euthanasia, documenting the growing evidence of acceptance of the practice and support for its legalization. Specific attention will now be given to the official response to these changes in the form of law reform commission and parliamentary inquiries and the legislative developments that have occurred with regard to the legalization of active voluntary euthanasia in the common law jurisdictions under consideration. To date, the Northern Territory in Australia is the only jurisdiction in the world to have enacted legislation legalizing the practice. In the State of Oregon in the USA, a citizen-initiated referendum in support of laws allowing physician-assisted suicide has been passed, but this legislation is currently being challenged in the courts on constitutional grounds.

This chapter begins with an evaluation of the position in the United Kingdom in view of the long history of reform initiatives in that jurisdiction. Attention will then be devoted to the Australian position, with particular reference to the recent developments in the Northern Territory. In the remainder of the chapter, consideration will also be given to reform developments which have occurred in the USA, and Canada.


I. UNITED KINGDOM

The United Kingdom has a long history of reform efforts to introduce legislation for the legalization of active voluntary euthanasia due to the early development of the voluntary euthanasia movement in that country.1 The Voluntary Euthanasia Society in London was the first such society to be established in the common law world and has, since its inception in 1935, actively pursued the introduction of active voluntary euthanasia legislation. Quite a number of bills have been prepared and introduced into Parliament but these reform efforts have been unsuccessful. Apart from these legisla

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1
For historical coverage of the legislative developments in the UK, see Gould J. and Lord Craigmyle (eds.), Your Death Warrant? Implications of Euthanasia: A Medical, Legal and Ethical Study ( New Rochelle, New York, 1971).

-333-

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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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