Euthanasia in Australia: raising a disability voice

19 November 2010

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The Australian euthanasia debate is inviting us to conclude that lives lived with disability are often not worth living, while actual disability experience points to a contrary reality. 

Euthanasia legislation is currently being pursued in many State jurisdictions and a Federal Parliamentary debate on restoring Territorial rights to legislate in this area is imminent. Its consequences will reflect on what kind of society we want to have. Whatever we decide won’t be easy to unwind once we have made that choice. The Australian euthanasia debate is inviting us to conclude that lives lived with disability are often not worth living, while actual disability experience points to a contrary reality. Disability voices and perspective are seldom heard but are essential ingredients of a fully informed debate. Their experience shows that there is a social context within which requests for euthanasia arise, which calls for the best possible care and support. Set in that context, it is not possible to build any effective safeguards against euthanasia. Some information on the Dutch euthanasia experience is included in arguing against adopting euthanasia laws and for using disability experience of interdependence as an ethically responsible framework for dealing with suffering.

 

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Erik Leipoldt, 2010, Euthanasia in Australia: raising a disability voice, Centre for Research into Disability and Society, viewed 26 September 2016, <http://apo.org.au/node/23306>.

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