24 April 2013

The right to choose an assisted death: time for legislation?

What: Launch of the Australia21 report: The Right to Choose an Assisted Death: Time for Legislation?
Who: Launched by Emeritus Professor The Hon Peter Baume AC
Where: Room 2S3, Parliament House Canberra
When: 10.30am Friday 26 April 2013.

A report on assisted dying prepared by Australia21 will be launched by Emeritus Professor The Hon Peter Baume AC at Parliament House, Canberra at 10:30am on Friday 26 April.

The report follows a high-level roundtable held in Brisbane in January on the question “How should Australia regulate voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide?” The roundtable brought together a group of former politicians, doctors, lawyers, palliative care workers, students and opponents and supporters of assisted dying following their review of a discussion paper on assisted dying prepared by two senior Queensland legal academics, Professors Ben White and Lindy Wilmott of the Health Law Research Centre, Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology..

The lead author of the report and convenor of the roundtable, Emeritus Prof Bob Douglas AO said:

World views on assisted dying are changing rapidly. In recent years a number of jurisdictions around the world have decriminalized assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia with generally satisfactory outcomes. National polls make it clear that Australians want to have this possibility available to them as they approach the end of their lives. The issue has been extensively debated in the past in both state and federal parliaments, but has been heavily opposed by a small but highly influential segment of the Australian population  Our report presents both sides of the argument and concludes in favour of legislative action to protect doctors and patients alike who wish to choose assisted dying.

Co-author of the report, legal academic Professor Ben White said:

The current law on voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide is flawed. The law lacks coherence and there is a body of evidence that shows it is not being followed. Reform is needed.

Professor Baume has been a practising clinician, public health academic, Senator, Federal Health Minister and Chancellor of the Australian National University. He undertook published research into the attitudes and practices of Australian doctors to euthanasia during the 1990s. He also participated in the Australia21 roundtable discussion which prompted this report.

Contact:      Emeritus Professor Bob Douglas   0409 233 138
  Professor Ben White                             0422 538 895

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