ActivePaper Archive A wonderful life, and now the right to die - The Age, 3/14/2023

A wonderful life, and now the right to die


Thank you for your editorial on our euthanasia laws (Sunday Age, 12/3). We are supposed to live in a free society where the rights of the individual are paramount, except for the issue of the right to die. We are arguing about the right of terminally ill people to die. Keeping them alive when they want to die is not only a violation of their rights, it is inhuman and, in cases that I have seen, cruel. The vaunted palliative care in some cases is just as bad.

Many 80-year-olds like myself have had a great life but now the spectre of the nursing home is like a dark cloud on our diminishing horizons. Modern medicine is keeping us alive, but can it guarantee a peaceful ending to a wonderful life? As you slowly lose the faculties that you find important, you do not want to die in a way that is demeaning to yourself and all who love you. I have seen this happen and have hated it. You would not treat a dog like that.

When your body is worn out and you have had enough of life, you should be able to end it. People ending their life peacefully among friends is all we 80-year-olds ask for. If you do not want to be part of the process for religious or other reasons then suit yourself, but do not deny we who want a death befitting the way we lived, our rights. We have had a wonderful life and deserve a dignified death.

Spencer Leighton, Torquay

Those who are in pain deserve a dignified death

Too many terminally ill Victorians who need, and are trying to, obtain physician-assisted dying are forced to end their days in pain and suffering because of the failure of the Victorian law to operate in the manner that the law intended.

The lack of trained physicians and the need for this specialist training appears to be one of the major problems, especially in regional and rural areas. In Oregon, in the US, the laws allow any two physicians to authorise procedures. This has created no problems in more than 20 years of operation. There is an urgent need to review our state’s legislation to allow Victorians who are suffering a painful and distressing end to die with dignity.

Rod Mackenzie, Marshall

We need to heed the warning from Pope Francis

Euthanasia, voluntary assisted dying or assisted suicide all mean the same thing. A wise and holy person once said, ‘‘We must accompany people towards death, but not provoke death or facilitate assisted suicide’’. That person was Pope Francis, in February. He also said, ‘‘The dying need palliative care, not euthanasia or assisted suicide’’.

Philip Ryan, Burwood East

Review must canvas widely, including overseas

‘‘For all the fear and loathing that was generated when the euthanasia laws were going through parliament, they have proven to be remarkably uncontroversial in practice’’ (Editorial, 12/3). There is evidently a significant etymological shift: we really are talking about euthanasia now, not assisted dying for the terminally ill.

One would hope that the state government’s review, which will be undertaken after June, will canvas widely – and perhaps look to other countries and their experiences. For example, Dr Madeline Li, an active assisted-dying advocate, who has called for a moratorium on the expansion of Canada’s program beyond the terminally ill. Or authorities in Belgium where Genevieve Lhermitte, a mother who killed her five children, was euthanised at her own request.

Fiona Winn, Moorabbin

The battle to get effective palliative care

The account of the last days of Daryl Goodman – who was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer but died after becoming too ill to finish the final stage of his application for voluntary assisted dying (Sunday Age, 12/3) – filled me with dread. I hope he had a palliative care team who tried to relieve his suffering and excruciating pain. Tragically, this lack of palliative care is a bigger problem than any bureaucratic steps in the voluntary assisted dying process, even as cruel as they were for Mr Goodman. Geoff Sheahan, Wantirna South