April 25, 2018

Author Archive | Professor Margaret Somerville

Canadian psychiatrist Dr Harvey Max Chochinov is the author of Dignity Therapy: Final Words for Final Days.

Margaret Somerville: Dr Harvey’s must-read book unpacks what dignity means

Dignity Therapy is a remarkable book. From one perspective, however, that is not surprising, as it has a remarkable author, Dr Harvey Max Chochinov. (Note: In this review I refer to the book as Dignity Therapy in italics and the psychotherapeutic intervention it explains as “dignity therapy” in quotation marks.) Dr Chochinov is a Canadian […]

The host of the ABC's Q&A, Tony Jones. PHOTO: ABC

The titillation of ‘bullsh*t’ – Margaret Somerville on her Q&A experience

ABC’s Q&A is a well-known, nationally televised, live-to-air program. I was invited to be a panellist to discuss assisted suicide and euthanasia. Ninety-year-old Ron Fellows and his eighty-one year old wife Patricia, were seated in the front row of the audience.  When called on by host Tony Jones, Mr Fellows said, “We have decided that […]

Betty pictured in 2006 at the Alzheimer's unit of a nursing home in Fairmont, Minnesota, USA. Photo: Justin Sorensen, cc 2.0

Margaret Somerville: what about euthanasia’s ‘help me hold her down’ story?

The pro-euthanasia case is compact and quick and easy to make: It focuses on a terminally ill, seriously suffering, competent adult who gives informed consent to euthanasia and bases its claims to prevail on the obligation to respect that person’s right to autonomy and self-determination and dignity. The case against euthanasia is more complex and […]


Margaret Somerville: denial of ‘scope creep’ and abuse in euthanasia

For a long time, it’s puzzled me how proponents of the legalisation of euthanasia can confidently claim, as they do, that in the Netherlands and Belgium, the two jurisdictions with the longest experience of legalised euthanasia, there have been no slippery slopes, when the evidence is clearly otherwise. The “logical slippery slope” occurs when the […]

The society that still cares: a woman displaced by flooding in Brisbane in 2011 is assisted by rescue personnel. Photo: CNS

Margaret Somerville: post-truth, euthanasia and elder abuse – the storm

Exploring the connections that can be made among three very recent, at first glance apparently unrelated, stories in the news can provide important insights and warnings. These stories are that “post-truth” is the Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the year. That the Victorian Government will introduce an “assisted dying” bill in second half of 2017 which, […]

The debate is about children's rights, says Professor Margaret Somerville.

Same-sex marriage debate is about children’s rights

It seems that the only issue in relation to same-sex marriage on which politicians can agree is that the debate which would surround a plebiscite must be civilised and mutually respectful. To have any chance of achieving that “tone”, we need first to identify what the issues are and where we disagree. Homosexuality is not […]

Irritable Bowel Syndrome could be grounds for euthanasia under legal loopholes

The anti-democratic subtext of Andrew Denton

The Australian reports “Denton tells church to get out of euthanasia debate” (11 August) and the ABC website that “Andrew Denton has lashed out at a ‘subterranean Catholic force’ of politicians and businessmen who he claims continue to thwart attempts to allow legally assisted voluntary euthanasia in Australia”. This is the “label as religious – […]

Irritable Bowel Syndrome could be grounds for euthanasia under legal loopholes

Canada’s assisted suicide ruling does not protect the vulnerable

A major post-election issue in Canada is what to do about the Supreme Court of Canada’s judgment in the Carter case last February, which struck down the Criminal Code’s prohibition of assisted suicide to allow physician-assisted suicide in certain circumstances. This ruling represents a seismic shift in values of much greater import than what we […]