THE Ballarat court case this week of a man who pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of his sick, elderly wife has again raised the issue of euthanasia.
The failed attempt by the Yandoit man to kill his terminally-ill wife of nine years and then himself was an act of love.
The man’s defence barrister told the Ballarat court: “He was at no stage motivated by anything but overwhelming love for his wife.
“It was designed to ensure there was no suffering.”
In what can only be described as an “appropriate” sentence considering the circumstances, the judge in the case imposed an 18-month community corrections order with strict conditions the man receive medical and mental health treatment as well as rehabilitation.
The controversial issue of euthanasia is a subject which demands further attention by governments at all levels. It is an issue which has divided the nation.
On one hand, people are advocating dying with dignity for terminally-ill patients. On the other hand is the possibility that legalising euthanasia would open a can of worms.
It has been the subject of moral, religious, philosophical, legal and human rights debate in Australia for many years. There is the desire of individuals to choose to die with dignity when suffering a terminal condition. There is also the right to life of every person.
Legalising euthanasia – or voluntary assisted suicide – has wide implications for individuals, medical and legal professions and society in general. Several attempts have been made to legalise euthanasia in parts of Australia and, for some time, it was legal in the Northern Territory.
However, at present, euthanasia is illegal in Australia.
A 2009 Newspoll survey asked: “If a hopelessly-ill patient, experiencing unrelievable suffering, with absolutely no chance of recovering, asks for a lethal dose, should a doctor be allowed to give a lethal dose or not? Eighty-five per cent of those surveyed answered “yes, they would”.
Whether people believe terminally-ill people have the right to die with dignity and end their suffering via voluntary-assisted suicide, or whether people believe in the right to life, this is a serious issue that must be debated immediately.
If you are experiencing difficulties, contact Lifeline on 131114.