Friday, 20 June 2008

Mercy killing verdicts reignite euthanasia debate

Shirley Justins: Guilty of manslaughter.

A euthanasia advocate is appealing for changes to the law after two women were yesterday found guilty of the manslaughter of an Alzheimer's disease sufferer.

Shirley Justins, 59, was found guilty of the manslaughter of her partner Graeme Wiley, who died from an overdose of the euthanasia drug Nembutal in his northern Sydney home in 2006.

A family friend, 75-year-old Caren Jenning, was convicted of being an accessory to manslaughter.

Justins had earlier pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of aiding and abetting suicide while Jenning had pleaded guilty to importing the drug.

Despite the guilty pleas, Crown prosecutor Mark Tedeschi pushed ahead with murder charges on the grounds Justins had a financial and personal motive.

Dr Robert Marr from the Coalition of Organisations for Voluntary Euthanasia says the verdict shows it is time to re-examine the legal rights of patients.

"We believe the decision to convict the two women is a terrible tragedy," he said.

"[The decision] really just increases the pressure on politicians to change the law to enable dying patients to request receive assistance to end their suffering when their suffering becomes too great."

But anti-euthanasia campaigner Chang Lim says the conviction reinforces laws that protect the vulnerable and weak.

He says the verdict shows euthanasia is unacceptable to Australian society.

"Existing NSW laws are there to protect the vulnerable and the weak," he said.

"We - NSW Right to Life - are very thankful that justice has been served and that human value cannot be forsaken, regardless of how old or how weak those individuals are."

Quote: “ Regardless of how old or how weak those individuals are." Unquote. Well if they make an informed decision based say, on their quality of life being hopeless? Or whether their pain cannot be cured then they should be able to get help.

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