Issue 3
Monday, 27 March 2017
Charles Darwin University
Senior Lecturer in Law Felicity Gerry QC
Senior Lecturer in Law Felicity Gerry QC

Call to breathe new life into euthanasia debate

By Patrick Nelson

A Law academic says the 20th anniversary today of an action by the Australian Government to overturn the NT’s euthanasia law should serve as a catalyst to take a fresh look at the issue.

Senior Lecturer in Law Felicity Gerry QC said the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act and its subsequent invalidation by Canberra was an important chapter in legal history that merits academic analysis.

“Some of our students have produced very good undergraduate-level papers, but there is only so far one can take undergraduate research,” Ms Gerry said. “Much more could be achieved at a Master’s level or by a PhD candidate.

“For example, a series of interviews with the key players involved 20 years ago should be recorded before it’s too late. Such a collection of oral histories could prove to be a brilliant element of a doctoral research project.”

Ms Gerry said that aside from the significance of the Northern Territory being the first jurisdiction in the world to explicitly legalise euthanasia, it remained an emotive, bio-ethically and legally complex field about which there was ongoing public interest.

“My view, particularly after our recent Health and Law Research Workshop and Student Showcase*, is that we should be prepared to reconsider the issues. As a civilised society we should have a law that proffers protection and freedom to people considering questions relating to living in agony or dying in comfort.”

Ms Gerry said the imminent digitisation of “The NT Euthanasia Collection” at the CDU library would provide researchers with enhanced access to an invaluable collection of resources.

“This involves the digitisation of significant and iconic documents within the broader collection, and the creation of a user-friendly ‘front end’ to showcase the collection and encourage people to find out more.

“It has already begun and is due to be completed by June,” Ms Gerry said.

*Health and Law Research Workshop