AbstractThis work aims to make the case for reform to the law on euthanasia being necessary. There are certain constructs within the criminal law, passive euthanasia and the doctrine of double effect, that allow the courts to re-define physicians’ actus reus (in the case of passive euthanasia) or mens rea (in the case of double effect), and make it possible for them to do acts that would otherwise be seen as murder without the threat of legal sanctions.
While it is not disputed that the majority of physicians who perform passive euthanasia or rely on the doctrine of double effect do so in good faith and therefore deserve legal protection, it will be argued these constructs they rely are logically not fit for purpose and that the courts allow, through their use, the very acts they purport to condemn.
It is concluded that active euthanasia and intentional killing are, through ‘passive’ euthanasia and the doctrine of double effect, both practiced and unregulated, and it is this lack of regulation that this work cites as the most important reason why the law at present needs to be reformed. With the need for reform as its basis, the discussion moves on to explore a number of possible avenues through which reform could be effected, and settles upon the promulgation of legislation as the most prudent. In response to this finding, a draft Bill was written and is evaluated in the last chapter of this work.
|Date of Award
|16 May 2012
|Glenys Williams (Supervisor) & John Williams (Supervisor)