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So what is assisted suicide? At the current time, argument about what actually constitutes ‘assisted suicide’ shows no sign of easing. A significant grey area continues to exist at the boundaries, with lawyers unable to give clear and concise answers to many questions about this issue.
The dearth of case law leaves it unclear about whether, for example, giving a person the information they need, or even sitting with a person while they take their own life, is assisting with their suicide. On the one hand there is the argument that the mere act of sitting with someone about to suicide provides psychological encouragement? Or does it? Perhaps those present have a duty of care to prevent that person from harming themselves? Perhaps one should leap from one’s chair and grab the glass of lethal drugs from the person’s lips? But wouldn’t that be an assault? The law regarding assisted suicide is ill defined and murky.
VE Legislation - What Type of Law is Needed?
Over the years, legislation has attempted to bring clarity and order to the Assisted Suicide debate. By defining the class of person who can be helped to die and by stipulating the manner in which this help can be provided, laws such as the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act (Northern Territory) - the world’s first right-to-die law - went a long way towards establishing uniformity and equity.
To make use of the law a person had to be ‘terminally ill,’ and this was defined in the Act. The person also had to satisfy a number of other strict criteria.