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"Death talk": debating euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in Australia

Margaret A Somerville
Med J Aust 2003; 178 (4): 171-174.

Imprecise language and deliberate confusion of important ethical and legal concepts are clouding our understanding of controversial end-of-life issues. This could affect our decision about whether or not to legalise euthanasia.

In postmodern societies, the euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide debate is an important forum for the "death talk" through which we accommodate — with as much comfort as possible — the reality of death into the living of our lives.1 Recently, I debated Dr Philip Nitschke, at the Australian Medical Association's Annual General Meeting in Canberra, 24–26 May 2002, on whether euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide should be legalised. Dr Nitschke advocates such legalisation; I oppose it.

  • Margaret A Somerville

  • McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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Competing interests:

None identified.

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