Why is dying with dignity still not legal in Australia?
Last month a cross-party working group of NSW politicians unveiled a draft bill legalising voluntary assisted dying. The bill, which will be introduced to NSW Parliament within months, would give terminally ill NSW residents over 25 the legal right to end their own lives with medical assistance.
At present in Australia, the laws against murder and suicide forbid all forms of voluntary assisted dying.
Even a willing participant may not lawfully take such action – the laws in every state criminalise such conduct. They extend to active euthanasia and to assisted suicide.
There are some legislative provisions and medical practices throughout Australia for advance care directives that affect the doctor/patient relationship, but which do not relieve from criminal liability. Despite other jurisdictions around the world introducing provisions to decriminalise voluntary assisted dying, as well as attempts by different states to legalise euthanasia, Australian parliaments have been reluctant to follow through on change.