There has been significant activity on voluntary euthanasia, with bills seeking to reform the law on the practice introduced in all of the Australian state parliaments except Queensland. This article examines the present legislative attempts to legalise voluntary euthanasia in two Australian state parliaments: South Australia and Tasmania. The two parliaments have been the foci of a large part of the activity on the issue in recent years and some would argue, have shown signs of promise for law reform. The status of bills presently being considered by each parliament is reviewed and the activities of relevant interest groups and professional organisations are examined to identify the likelihood of reform in the near future. It is argued that, so long as there is opposition to bills in the states from medical and legal professionals, the law on voluntary euthanasia is unlikely to change in the near future. More broadly, the paper sheds light onto the power of the medical profession in Australian politics in relation to a contemporary ‘morality politics’ issue.
This article was first published in Australasian Parliamentary Review 29 (1) by Alison Plumb, School of Politics and International Relations, ANU.