On Thursday 29 June RASP hosted a major public conversation between two world-renowned bioethicists, Professor Peter Singer and Professor Margaret Somerville. The event was chaired by John Cleary (former ABC presenter and creator of the original Religion Report).
Some 400 members of the public attended and were able to ask questions from the Presenters.
The euthanasia physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia (PAS-E) debate involves a conflict between respect for individual autonomy and respect for human life. Pro-PAS advocates give priority to autonomy, anti-PAS-E adherents to respect for life.
Pro PAS-E argue PAS-E are medical treatments, just extensions of palliative care. Anti PAS-E disagree seeing doctors killing patients or helping them to kill themselves as a seismic disruption of our foundational societal values and a radical change in the ethos of medicine.
The Victorian government’s proposed legislation would allow doctors to act on patients’ requests for prescription drugs that, should they choose to take them, would bring about their peaceful death.
Similar legislation has existed in the American state of Oregon for 20 years, and in neighbouring Washington for 8 years. More recently, California, Vermont and Colorado have followed Oregon’s example, as has Canada. Some European countries also permit doctors to help patients to end their lives.
In August the Victorian Labour government proposes to introduce legislation enabling Voluntary Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide in Victoria. This is a very significant issue deserving considered public discussion, the kind of opportunity that RASP (www.centrerasp.org) exists to promote.