Monday, September 21, 2009

Legal to Decline Treatment in Australia.

Britain is certainly not the only country grappling with assisted suicide at the moment (see prior post). From Singapore to China, Britain to the US, assisted suicide is proving to challenge courts and public opinion around the globe. As populations age, life-prolonging technologies develop and health care becomes a juggernaut in many national budgets, countries are being forced to grapple with how they can legally provide citizens with the death they choose without subjecting doctors to prosecution. Most often these challenges are legal.

In Australia, the case of Christian Rossiter, a quadriplegic who won the right to deny life-prolonging medical treatment from the home where he was a resident. Rossiter died of a chest infection after winning the legal right to not receive nutrition and hydration. Australians who support Mr. Rossiter's petition fear that the government and the medical profession are not representing public opinion on the matter.

While Mr Ray hopes Christian Rossiter's story brings legal reform one step closer, he believes politicians will continue to stand in the way.

"It is a rather sad situation that while euthanasia has been supported by over 80 per cent of the population, it is the parliamentarians who are holding it back," he said.

"It is the parliamentarians' fright of what a small minority of the electorate will do to their future electoral prospects [that is] stopping this legislation from going through.
The story does not identify that small minority of the electorate demographically.

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