The Federation Press

An Easeful Death?

Perspectives on death, dying and euthanasia


We may at last as a society beginning to talk about death or at least to appreciate the need to come to terms with it, so that we may confront and accept it.

The possibility of violent sudden death, as mirrored in the Port Arthur and Dunblane mass murders, has thrown up for us in recent months the feelings of finality and despair that death so often brings.

At the same time, modern medicine and its technologies, which can postpone or suspend dying, bring us another set of questions. Our laws, our beliefs, our science, our history, our myths, and the way our culture, social and political, is organised: all of these reflect and have a bearing on how we approach the subject.

The essays in this book examine death, dying, assisted death and euthanasia from a number of perspectives. They are not exhaustive, but they explore some of the opinions, some of the deeply held ethical beliefs and fears about death and loss of control over oneself, and some of the questions posed about compassion and the value and dignity of human life.

Leading Australian and overseas thinkers present a variety of theological, ethical and medical perspectives to provide a balanced and challenging view of complex issues.

Table of Contents

Death in the Contemporary World

Easeful death: Culture and medicine in the debate on death, dying and euthanasia
John Morgan
Look not at the sun or death: Reflections on death, dying and euthanasia
Davis McCaughey

How Shall We Die?

What is a good death? A doctor’s view
Alison A Holloway
Care of the dying: A nurse’s perspective
Elizabeth White
Death and the future
Deirdre Gardiner
Hope in dying: Palliative care and a good death
Ian Maddocks

Letting Some People Die and Euthanasia Considered

Distracters in the contemporary debate on euthanasia
Brian Pollard
Live and let die
Raymond Hoffenburg
Valuing the vulnerable: Suicide, murder and euthanasia
David Brown
Some scepticism about active euthanasia and assisted suicide
William F May

Dying and Euthanasia in a Time of Scarce Resources

The sanctity of life and resource allocation: Voluntarism, coercion and the common good
Malcolm Parker
Autonomy, resources and the sanctity of life
WJ Uren

Regulating Death and Euthanasia

Euthanasia and withdrawal of treatment: Legal perspectives
Brian Bartley
Legislation, ethics and social policy: The case of ’dying with dignity’
Don Stewart
The tragic truth about Dutch death
John Keown


The enigma of death
Alastair V Campbell


Commonwealth: Euthanasia Laws Bill 1996
Victoria: Medical Treatment Act 1988
South Australia: Consent to Medical Treatment and Palliative Care Act 1995
Northern Territory: Rights of the Terminally Ill Act

Of interest...