Lawyer Takes Euthanasia Debate Overseas


Wesley J. Smith, an American attorney and award-winning author, will be traveling to Tasmania to try and prevent the legalization of voluntary euthanasia within the Country. His trip follows Tasmanian Attorney General, Lara Giddings’, announcement that she will be investigating a private legislative member’s bill legalising the act. According to international experts, most Tasmanians support the legislation. Smith, Senior Fellow in Human Rights and Bioethics at the Disovery Institute and lawyer and consultant for the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, hopes that his visit will sway Tasmanians to rethink their viewpoints. The long-time anti-euthanasia advocate argues that euthanasia, when legalized, is often practiced without impunity on young children, mentally ill patients, and the disabled.

Voluntary euthanasia is the practice of ending one’s life in order to end some type of pain or suffering. In the United States, voluntary euthanasia is legal in Oregon and Washington. When such a practice is done with the help of a physician, it is usually called “assisted suicide”. Although in 1996 the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals declared New York State’s law criminalizing physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients unconstitutional, the decision was overturned by the United States Supreme Court. What do you think about physican-assisted suicide? Should a physician be liable to the deceased’s family for medical malpractice if he helped the deceased commit suicide?

I respect Mr. Smith’s decision to go to Tasmania and argue his viewpoints to the Tasmanian Legislature. However, it really has nothing to do with the topic of euthanasia at all. As an attorney, he has a duty not just to his clients, but to also devote his life to doing public works and to be passionate about the type of law that he practices. When you choose an attorney, a helpful indication that he or she will be successful is not just his client base or the firm that he or she works for. Look at one of the most important factors – does he have a passion for the type of law that he practices? If he does – then he’ll most likely be passionate about your case.