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Sean Davison to speak at Otago euthanasia debate

Castle St street sign

Monday 23 April 2012 10:27am

Following the completion of his home detention sentence for the assisted suicide of his mother, South Africa-based scientist Professor Sean Davison will be one of five panellists to speak at an open public forum on Thursday examining the issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Entitled, “Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: A Discussion We Need to Have”, the event has been organised by the University of Otago’s Centre for Theology and Public Issues as part of its commitment to generating informed public debate about some of society’s most difficult issues.

“Universities are called to be ‘critic and conscience’ of society, and the Centre for Theology and Public Issues helps Otago meet that calling by organising forums around issues which are of public interest but aren’t getting debated elsewhere,” explained Centre Director Professor Andrew Bradstock.

“You’d have to say assisted suicide is one such issue.”

Cases like the recent one involving Sean Davison keep the issue before us, Professor Bradstock says, “but we can’t change legislation on the basis of a few sensational stories – we need informed, serious debate, an opportunity to consider all the angles and implications. Our event on Thursday will be one such opportunity.”

Appearing with Professor Davison will be the Hon. Maryan Street, a Labour MP based in Nelson and author of a new private member’s bill that would allow for some aspects of assisted suicide; Professor Grant Gillett of the University of Otago’s Centre for Bioethics and a leading authority on end-of-life issues; and John Kleinsman, Director of the Wellington-based Nathaniel Centre, the NZ Catholic Bioethics Centre.

Chaired by Professor Paul Trebilco of the University’s Department of Theology and Religion, the discussion will open with a 20-minute presentation by post-graduate student Thomas Noakes-Duncan who will summarise the current arguments for a change in the laws governing euthanasia and assisted suicide in New Zealand.

The four panellists will then give 10-minute responses to the paper, with the second half of the meeting being open to questions from members of the public attending the event. Joining the panel for this will be Associate Professor Colin Gavaghan, Otago Faculty of Law and specialist in medical law and ethics, who will explain any legal ramifications of any change in the law.

Event details

“Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: A Discussion We Need to Have”

Date Thursday 26 April, 2012
Time 5.15 pm to 7.30 pm
Venue Colquhoun Lecture Theatre, Dunedin Public Hospital

For further information, contact

Professor Andrew Bradstock
Director, Centre for Theology and Public Issues
Department of Theology and Religion
University of Otago
Tel 64 3 479 8450

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