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Analysis of a health related policy - Euthanasia

Number of Words : 3580

Number of References : 15


 Table of Contents 1
 Background 2
 Policy Definition 3
 Policy Analysis Framework 4
 Context 4
 Content 6
 Process 9
 Actors / Stakeholders 9
 References 11
 Appendix 1: Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995 13
 Appendix 2: Euthanasia Laws Act 1997’ (ELA) and amendment of the ‘Northern Territory (self government) Act 22


Euthanasia – it is a word that itself evokes a complex emotive response from people. The debate around Euthanasia and its legalisation has waged in Australia for more than a decade. In fact Australia’s Northern Territory was the first territory in the world to legalise Euthanasia in 1995 through the ‘Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995’ (ROTTIA) (Appendix 1) passed by the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly on May 25, 1995 under the lead of Marshal Perron. However, widespread opposition to the act across the rest of Australia led to the Commonwealth Parliament taking action through its passing of the ‘Euthanasia Laws Act 1997’ (ELA) (Appendix 2) and its amendment of the ‘Northern Territory (self government) Act’ (Appendix 2). These two acts, while they did not actually repeal ROTTIA nullified it for all practical purposes. This was done by effectively removing from the charter of the NT the legislative power to pass any laws permitting Euthanasia.
The passing of the ELA however was not the end of this policy tussle which rages to this day and has in fact gained momentum over the last two years. Currently, this policy is being debated in two jurisdictions. Bills have been brought forward in South Australia and Victoria to reinstate what is now being termed "medically-assisted voluntary euthanasia". In the case of the state of Victoria, MP Ken Smith has agreed to introduce a Bill to allow physician-assisted suicide while MP Colleen Hartland has announced she will co-sponsor the Medical Treatment (Physician Assisted Dying) Act 2008. (White, Hillary, 2008). Several factors have been responsible for bringing this issue to the forefront of public perception and the policy making agenda. These include among others - life prolonging technologies and advancements in palliative care, substantial increases in average life expectancy, hospice care development and the efforts of activists' and stakeholders both in support and against legalisation of euthanasia. It is this intersection of medicine, politics, law and ethics shaped by clashing cultural values and practices regarding dying and death, under the historical spectre of human rights abuses that makes euthanasia such a contentious issue in need of clear public policy

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