Pathos, death talk and palliative care in the assisted dying debate

by Stephen Duckett

Published in the Mortality: Vol 24 Journal, Sunday 17 February

Proponents around the world of assisted dying can learn from the debate in Victoria. Emotional arguments played a significant role in persuading Victorian lawmakers to support assisted dying legislation. In this review of submissions to the Legislative Council inquiry into end-of-life care, Grattan Institute’s Health Program Director Stephen Duckett shows that many submissions used narratives of bad deaths of family members or friends, or included stories by people suffering from chronic terminal illness. The submissions used the emotional tugs of these narratives to support their case. They also highlighted the contemporary weaknesses of end-of-life care, including lack of access to good palliative care, and that patient needs were not met, sometimes for religious or value-based reasons.