Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, Vol 30, No 2 (2017)

Arguing in the Public Square: Christian Voices Against Assisted Dying in Victoria

Stephen Duckett
Issued Date: 22 Nov 2017


Assisted dying is a topic fraught with theological and ethical contention. It has been regularly debated in Australian parliaments and is currently under active consideration in New South Wales and Victoria. The Victorian process involved a public inquiry by a committee of Victoria’s upper house which attracted more than a thousand submissions. This paper analyses the submissions made to that committee by Christian churches and organizations with a Christian affiliation. All bar one of the submissions were opposed to legalising assisted dying. The two most common themes in the Christian submissions were the need to expand palliative care services and that adequate palliative care could be an alternative to assisted dying; and that even narrowly constrained legalising of assisted dying could lead to a slippery slope with further expansions and potential harm to vulnerable populations. These arguments were not successful and the committee supported legalising assisted dying. Possible reasons for the failure of the Christian arguments are explored.

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DOI: 10.1558/jasr.34354


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