Morality can be defined as the conformity to the rules of the right conduct or a doctrine system of morals. There are two types of morality; private and public morality. Public morality is what the entire society as a whole considers being right or wrong. Private morality is what one person considers being right or wrong. Morals are influenced by many factors such as upbringing, cultural and religious factors. Consequently with a society as diverse as Australia there will always be conflicting morals, as there will be some inconsistency within some individuals private and society's public morality.
Law is said to reflect public morality, and so it would be merely impossible for law to be able to address everyone's morals accordingly. It can accurately be alleged that law and Morals go together hand in hand; law without morals would result in anarchy. As deduced by Lord Delvin in his essay entitled "Morals and the Criminal Law" "Society means a community of ideas; without shared ideas on politics, morals and ethics, no society can exist. Each one of us has ideas about what is good and what is evil, they cannot be kept private from the society in which we live.
If men and women try to create a society in which there is no fundamental agreement about good and evil, they will fail; if, having based it on common agreement, the agreement goes, the society will disintegrate. " It could then be suggested that, a society like our own, having areas of criminal law which endures never-ending moral conflict, will than continue to experience legal instability. This is evident in respect to the legality of Abortion and Euthanasia where no common ground can be found in order to have laws that are complied with and are effective in achieving justice.
Abortion is the accidental or deliberate premature ending of a pregnancy. In NSW abortion is covered in sections 82, 83 & 84 of The Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) Where it stipulates that it is 'unlawful' to use any drug or instrument to bring about an abortion, and that it is a felony that is punishable by 10 years in gaol. Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia, specify criminal codes that provide a statutory defense to the crime of unlawful abortion.
Where as in New South Wales, a common law test is relied on to achieve this, where the court has to interpret whether unless an abortion is undertaken serious danger to the woman's physical and mental health will be experienced (Davidson's Case). In the case of R v Wald and Others, Mr. Justice Levine of the District Court of NSW followed the ruling of the Davidson's case but also added economic or social reasons during the pregnancy as providing grounds for a danger to the mother's health.
Many believe that the leniency and ambiguity of The Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) in respect to abortion has led to the epidemic rate of abortions undertaken highlighting our moral failings, such opinions come from Tony Abbott, Leader of the House and federal Health Minister and a catholic and former seminarian. Abbot has said that "Even those who think that abortion is a woman's right should be tortured by the fact that 100,000 Australian women choose to destroy their unborn babies every year". His blunt views highlight those held by many religious sanctions, such as the Catholic Church.
On the other hand there are many who declare themselves to be pro-choice about the abortion issue, such as Opposition Leader Mark Latham who believes this isn't a simplistic issue as Abbott puts it and that social and medical reforms must take place to put the reproductive and sexual health of Australians in main concern. When evaluating the effectiveness of the law in achieving justice in moral issues, it is important to note that an individual's definition of justice in relation to these moral issues will greatly be reflected by the morals upheld by that individual.
It is the ambiguity of The Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) in respect to abortion that greatly hinders the effectiveness of the law in achieving justice, the lack of certainty which is produced by laws which are made obsolete through failure of enforcement by the courts has also led to the ineffectiveness of The Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) It is this fact which lends to the argument that there should be uniform abortion laws throughout Australia.
Abortion should either be legalised or the law should be clarified so that no ambiguity as to the lawfulness of the procedure remains, relying on common law to fulfill justice is very limited as we than rely on the judges discretion to interpret the law. The lack of definitive laws is also a burden on the individual and society in respect to resource efficiency of the judicial system and the economic weight of legal costs the individual must pay to utilize the judicial system in order to receive justice, those who cannot afford such costs would be very disadvantaged as accessibility is only offered to those who can afford it.
Another issue of effectiveness is that of compliance of the law, as if people don't believe what they are doing is morally wrong they will not comply with the law, especially as a law such as abortion which lacks police action which has effectively led to an increase of abortion on request. Abortion on request has been the reality in Australia for about thirty years, although technically it remains a crime, with strict medical exceptions. Euthanasia is deliberately ending a person's life in order to stop that person's pain and suffering.
As recent experience shows, Euthanasia is a topic that is increasingly visiting the higher courts as they are invited to solve contested problems of life and death that is not addressed in The Euthanasia Laws Act 1997 (Cth). This Act Amends the Northern Territory Self Government Act 1978 to disallow the making of laws which permit or have the effect of permitting (whether subject to conditions or not) the form of intentional killing of another called euthanasia or the assisting of a person to terminate his or her life.
Again the establishment of justice is similarly hampered by those issues affecting Abortion. Ambiguity of Euthanasia Laws Act 1997 (Cth) has also increased the involvement of Common law involvement, relying on common law to achieve justice. Compliance and enforcement of the law are all issues pertaining to Euthanasia, where you have figures such as Dr. Phillip Nitschke, openly holding "death" workshops and developing processors to make the experience more efficient and painless as possible (the new Euthanasia Pill released in early June, 2004) without being prosecuted, despite assisting in Euthanasia.