For as long as some of us can remember, there’s been a huge divide on the topic of assisted suicide. Assisted suicide is typically done with the help of a qualified physician, and it’s only available in certain countries. The people who desire assisted suicide are either those who are suffering a terminal illness or those who have reached old age and feel that there is no quality to their life. Recently, a 104-year-old Australian scientist named David Goodall traveled to Switzerland so he could end his own life via assisted suicide.
Goodall, a respected botanist who had been campaigning for assisted suicide to be legal in Australia, passed away on Thursday, May 10th at 12:30 p.m. (Switzerland time). Goodall traveled to Basel, Switzerland where he stayed at the Life Circle clinic. He passed away after being administered a dose of a lethal injection under the supervision of doctors and nurses. He was a longtime member of Exit International, a group that advocates for end-of-life choice and made his trip possible.
According to CNN, the 104-year-old Australian scientist told reporters that his life was no longer worth living and that his story would hopefully lead to the legalization of assisted dying in other countries. He was a grandfather of 12 and noted that he stopped enjoying his life “five or 10 years ago.” Goodall noted that this was partly because of his failing mobility and eyesight.
In an exclusive interview with CNN in his hotel in Basel on Tuesday, Goodall noted, “My life has been out in the field (working), but I can’t go out in the field now.” During his final days, he had to be pushed everywhere in a wheelchair. He also told Australia’s ABC, “I greatly regret having reached that age. I’m not happy. I want to die. It’s not sad particularly. What is sad is if one is prevented.”
According to their website, Exit International “sets itself apart from other aid-in-dying organizations in that we take a civil rights (read non-medical) approach to a person’s right to determine the time and manner of their passing.” The group believes that the decision to die doesn’t necessarily lie with the medical profession. Rather, “this decision is best left to the individual concerned.”
The site also notes: “Exit’s aim is to ensure the individual is fully supported by family and friends and has access to the best available information.” Goodall believed that there was no quality to his life. He told CNN, “At my age, I get up in the morning. I eat breakfast. And then I just sit until lunchtime. Then I have a bit of lunch and just sit. What’s the use of that?” So why travel all the way to Switzerland? That’s because assisted suicide is not legal in Australia yet. But only for now: the state of Victoria is taking steps to change that.
According to ABC, the “Voluntary Assisted Dying Law” was passed in November 2017 by the state of Victoria, but will only go into effect in June 2019. Furthermore, the law is limited to those whose death is expected in no longer than six months. Ultimately, Goodall felt that the decision to die should be his decision and his decision only. According to the New York Times, Mr. Goodall was asked if he ever hesitated to go through with his assisted suicide: “No, none whatever,” Mr. Goodall said in a steady voice. “I no longer want to continue life, and I’m happy to have a chance tomorrow to end it.”
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