Euthanasia Principles and Values

By David Swanton


Ethical Principle for Voluntary Euthanasia

That every person of sound mind[1] has the right to implement plans for the end of their life so that their death is reliable, peaceful and at a time of their choosing.

Voluntary Assisted Dying Values

1. Individual rights

Every individual [2] has the right to

  • choose and implement a peaceful death at a time of their choosing
  • accept or reject any doctor’s involvement in an end-of-life action
  • accept or reject palliative care
  • request and be granted assistance with suicide if necessary.

Ethical Rights rejects the notion that some organisations’ moral values, including those of many religions, must be accepted and apply to other people.

2. Information provision

Information on end of life matters should be provided to individuals on request, as appropriate.

3. Individual empowerment

An individual should have the right to procure drugs and equipment for their end-of-life purposes.

4. Regulatory reform and objective debate

A regulatory system that legalises assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia should be developed. Ethical Rights supports objective debate on voluntary assisted dying and rational suicide to

  • ensure individual rights are upheld
  • advance regulatory options to further protect vulnerable individuals
  • consider regulatory options so that voluntary assited dying is available to all persons of sound mind, including terminally and chronically ill individuals.


Voluntary Assisted Dying

Voluntary assisted dying (voluntary euthanasia) is a deliberate act intended to cause the death of an individual, at that individual’s request, for what he or she sees as being in his or her best interests.

Rational Suicide

Rational suicide is suicide by mentally competent individuals who are suffering from a serious medical illness or who reasonably envisage a future quality of life that they deem unacceptable.

[1] A person need not be an adult. A determination would need to be made whether a non-adult could make a well-informed and cogent decision, if for example, they were terminally ill.

[2] An individual must be of sound mind