There is probably no more important issue in contemporary bioethics or a more serious ethical decision for our parliaments than that raised by the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017 being debated this week in the Victorian Parliament.
Under this bill, conditions and safeguards are outlined that will allow physicians to terminate the life of patients and to assist patients to take their own life. This is a threshold moment for the country. No matter what justifications are offered for the bill, it constitutes an unacceptable departure in our approach to human existence and the irrevocable sanctity that should govern our understanding of what it means to be human.
Does Victoria need to legalise assisted death?
Is it about time, or completely unnecessary? Complex moral arguments about the right to die, as the Victorian government begins debate on allowing terminal patients to end their life.
The justifications offered by the bills advocates that the legal conditions are stringent or that the regime being authorised will be conservative miss the point entirely. What matters is the core intention of the law. What matters is the ethical threshold being crossed. What matters is that under Victorian law there will be people whose lives we honour and those we believe are better off dead.
In both practical and moral terms, it is misleading to think allowing people to terminate their life is without consequence for the entire society. Too much of the Victorian debate has been about the details and conditions under which people can be terminated and too little about the golden principles that would be abandoned by our legisl...