Euthanasia, otherwise known as voluntary assisted suicide, is an ongoing moral, religious and humanitarian debate across Australia. 

While an assisted dying scheme is in place in Victoria, euthanasia is currently illegal across the country with many canvassing for the legalisation that gives terminally ill patients the right to decide when their life will end. 

Those campaigning for the legalisation of euthanasia believe it’s a basic human right. For compassionate reasons, terminally ill patients should be allowed to die with dignity rather than suffering through an incurable disease that can leave them in severe pain and unrecognisable to themselves and loved ones.

Supporters of legalising euthanasia believe that government legislation can safely regulate who would be eligible for euthanasia and how it should be carried out.

Those who protest against legalising euthanasia believe there are always alternative treatments. The view is that a person does not have to die to be relieved of pain as there are many options for pain relief available in Western medicine. 

While hospices and palliative care make sure all patients have dignity until their final breath, without clearly defined boundaries, if euthanasia were legalised, it’s impossible to say who should make the decision regarding the details of euthanasia on behalf of terminally ill patients.

Euthanasia isn’t a popular choice in many medical fields. If euthanasia is legalised, doctors would ethically have to carry out their patient’s wishes even though it may contradict their own beliefs of stopping at nothing to cure illness.

The proponents of euthanasia believe personal choice is important, however, it seems it’s not about handing over control to someone else to end the patient’s life but allowing patients the means to end their own lives.

Assisted suicide is not private. There must be someone there to help the patient. Those who have been involved are often affected emotionally by the ramifications of the process.

Legalising euthanasia may be a humanitarian issue for those living with a terminal illness, however, it’s a decision that impacts family members, medical professionals and other caregivers.

Should euthanasia be legalised?