Dying with dignity – assisted suicide - is an issue which has polarisied the community for many years.
But it is a subject which needs to be talked about, not swept under the carpet.
While it is not the position of this newspaper to give an opinion either way on such a controversial issue, it is the media’s role to help generate debate.
And there is expected to be much debate about it, with Victoria being on the verge of possibly becoming the first Australian state to legalise assisted suicide.
A parliamentary committee is expected to recommend changes giving terminally ill people greater choice to die with dignity.
Within the next few weeks, the committee is expected to call for a contentious shake-up in the law, including suggesting the state government create a regulated, assisted dying regime for people who are suffering.
The committee has received more than 1000 submissions, heard from over 100 witnesses and visited areas which already have legalised assisted dying.
For those who are suffering a terminal condition (and also for those loved ones caring for them), any discussion about an assisted dying regime will be welcomed.
For those on the other side of the debate, those with genuine concern about the legalities of the issue, this latest news will be worrying.
The development of specialised care of terminally ill patients has gone a long way to improving quality of life. Staff at palliative care facilities help to improve the quality of life for terminally ill patients and their families.
However, some people argue that palliative care does not go far enough to end the pain and suffering of certain patients.
Assisted suicide is nothing new. In Australia, Philip Nitschke, founder and director of the pro-euthanasia group Exit International, brought it to the fore many years ago.
Nitschke campaigned successfully to have a legal euthanasia law passed in Australia's Northern Territory and assisted four people in ending their lives before the law was overturned by the federal government.
This is an issue which is not going away and which needs to be strenuously debated. It is an issue which should not be put into the too hard basket.
Both sides of the debate should – and have the right – to be heard loud and clear before a decision is made.
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