10 May, 2021

The Death Wish

A law that grants the right to die triggers a massive controversy

The Death Wish

IN the Northern Territory, terminally ill patients can now officially ask doctors to help them die. The doctor must bebacked by a second doctor as well as a psychiatrist who should confirm that the person is not suffering from treatable depression. The patient is then required to wait seven days before signing the necessary papers and another 48 hours before life is terminated by a lethal drug.

The world's first euthanasia law, which recently came into effect in the vast wilderness of the Territory, has been heralded as a victory for doctors, but faces moral as well as legal obstacles from one-fourth of the inhabitants of the region, the aborigines. For them, there is no such experience as death, merely a continuation of life in another world. Says Reverend Djiniyinni Gondarra, who is opposing the law in the Territory's Supreme Court: "Death is not talked about in aboriginal customs and you cannot take someone else's life. When a person is passing from one life to another, the tribe gets together and sings and comforts the...

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