What is the current law?

Currently, it is not a crime to commit suicide or attempt to commit suicide, but it is a crime to “incite”, “counsel” or otherwise help “any person to commit suicide”.[1] Additionally, Section 63 of the Crimes Act 1961 states that no one can consent to another person killing them, and any person is allowed to resort to force in order to prevent another person from committing suicide.[2]

The law’s desire in these provisions is to protect human life. In the modern era, there has been a recognition that the right to life is a natural right of persons and is foundational to a just, free, and peaceful society; it is a right that cannot be deprived or given away.[3]

How will the End of Life Choice Act change this?

The introduction of the End of Life Choice Act adapts these provisions. It states, for example, that health practitioners are immune from criminal liability when discussing, passing on information, or exercising a person’s wish to be assisted to die.[4] More importantly, however, our analysis suggests that the Act creates two legal categories of people:

  1. Those whose life circumstances are such that they are forbidden from accessing euthanasia or assisted suicide, or being assisted in any other way to commit suicide; and
  2. Those whose lives carry certain features that mean that euthanasia or assisted suicide becomes an option for them.

As some commentators have stated, it creates a new “category of the killable,” or a category of people for whom suicide is a valid, government-sanctioned and facilitated option.


[1] Crimes Act 1961, s.179.
[2] Crimes Act 1961, ss.63 and 41.
[3] John Locke, Two Treatises on Government, United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).
[4] End of Life Choice Act 2019, s.26.

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