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Call to rein in courts on assisted suicide verdicts



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CALL TO REIN IN COURTS ON ASSISTED SUICIDE VERDICTS

A National Party Senator has called on State and Federal Attorneys General to tighten laws to prevent assisted suicide being used as a defence against murder charges.

Senator Julian MeGauran’s call follows a decision o f the Western Australian courts to overturn a murder conviction resulting in lessening the charge to aiding a suicide. The court further reduced the sentence against the transsexual for positively aiding the bathtub

drowning of a friend from five years to a period of 150 hours of community service and a two year probation.

Senator MeGauran said current criminal codes gave too much discretion in sentencing assisted suicides.

"The judiciary is driving the community into an acceptance of assisted euthanasia.

"The medical profession will interpret the decision as a softening of the euthanasia laws.

"It threatens to sully what has traditionally been the most unacceptable act in society — the taking of another human life."

Senator MeGauran called upon the Ministerial Council of Attorney’s General to include a review of criminal sanctions for assisted suicides on its next agenda.

"The court system needs direction and should not be allowed to run the community’s social conscience."

Senator MeGauran said the Perth court’s decision to commute the sentence for assisted suicide could also open up new grounds for defence agalnsi first degree murder.

"The lawyers will have a field day following the precedent of the decision.

"The charge of murder is now a grey area and open to all manner of intervening excuses which could see charges commuted to low order sanctions such as community service."

Senator MeGauran said the Attorneys General would be duty bound to strengthen sanctions against assisted suicides.

"The criminal code is ultimately a moral benchmark for the community.

"The State and Federal Attorneys General must stand by the community’s standards and not allow them to be gradually undermined by discretion of an unelected judiciary," he said.

For further information contact Julian MeGauran: (03)650 3622(w) (03)419 2019(h) 21.12.94