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These reports, taken together, constitute an unexpected and valuable body of expert findings, all pointing in the same direction.Thus, any future proposal for the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia (VE) could reasonably be regarded as incomplete and inadequate unless it displayed familiarity with the arguments contained in those reports, and included effective solutions to the many difficulties they uncovered.Those for and those against the proposal are both unwilling to yield on what they see as immutable positions of principle.
It is apparent now that such a neutral way has been discovered, though perhaps by chance, it has already been used several times and the results of that use have been published.
I refer to the reports of the large government-supported committees of inquiry held in recent years, on four different continents, devoted to the consideration of the consequences of legalising euthanasia.
Additionally, the consent of the victim is by legal tradition no defence to a crime. The criminal law of every nation holds that all innocent human life is inviolable, innocent persons being those who pose no threat, or have done no harm, to others.
The value placed equally by law on each life is such that its intentional destruction is the greatest of crimes, deserving of the greatest penalty.
Sydney, Australia The legalisation of euthanasia is a constantly recurring topic for debate, in which the chief themes include the status of good medical and nursing care for the dying, its morality, legal detail and human rights, especially respect for personal autonomy and perhaps privacy, and the role of public opinion.
Since there are deep divisions in society on all those issues, it is not surprising that the debate seems to rotate endlessly about them, without any reasonable prospect of consensus.
In the same circumstances, different patients and different doctors would have come to different conclusions, depending on their personal values.
Thus, under a euthanasia law that simply accepted these personal choices as grounds for lawful killing, the result would represent a kind of lottery of life, whereby a subjective request was met with a subjective response, and neither would be, or could be, objectively validated.
The more open it is, the greater the likelihood that it will be abused.
A good deal of the reasoning in the reports may be summarised in this extract from the report of the New York State Task Force: 'For purposes of public debate, one can describe cases in which all the recommended safeguards would be satisfied.