Euthanasia law criticised as out of step with society | Law

Euthanasia law criticised as out of step with society

The Sydney Morning Herald writes about Visiting Professorial Fellow Nicholas Cowdery's Justice Talks Lecture (16 October 2013).

Former NSW director of public prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery has urged the O'Farrell government to legalise voluntary euthanasia and to relax drug laws as part of a push to align the criminal law with community expectations of justice.

Mr Cowdery used a speech on Tuesday night to advocate new laws to give terminally ill people the right to an assisted death.

''Some time ago we ceased criminalising people who committed or attempted to commit suicide,'' Mr Cowdery told the University of NSW law faculty. ''But it is still a crime in NSW in 2013 to aid, abet, incite or counsel suicide or an attempt, and if that action is taken, the maximum penalty for the offence is five years' imprisonment.

''Suicide and assisting it happen often in our society in carefully controlled conditions and occasionally outside of those controls. One name we give to it is voluntary euthanasia and it is sometimes called assisted dying - but it is illegal. Other options have been taken up in various societies that are not very different from ours. Justice is enabled to be done to the sufferers who make open and free choices. But not here, not with our law.''

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