Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Economy

An Argument for Assisted Dying in Australia: Andrew Denton’s Di Gribble Argument in full

Who am I to be talking to you about a subject as complex as assisted dying? I have no medical qualifications – just two Logie nominations – so what would I know?

It’s true, I have no expertise … other than the expertise many of us share: I saw someone I love die badly.

My dad, Kit, used to joke that he wanted to go by walking into the shallow end of an Olympic-sized pool filled with single malt whisky, and just keep walking. Sadly, that never happened.

Watching him die remains the most profoundly shocking experience of my life.

He was 67, and though clearly dying of heart failure, and obviously in great pain, dad was assisted to die in the only way that Australia’s law then (and now) would allow: he was given ever-increasing doses of sedatives to settle the pain.

But morphine never did settle the pain. The images of those final three days will never be erased.

That was 18 years ago. In the years since, whenever I’ve talked about it, I’ve been struck by how many respond with similar stories about people they love dying slowly, in pain – and, seemingly, beyond medical help.

Every time I hear it, I think, ‘Surely we can do better than this?’

Then, a couple of years ago, I read an article by Tasmanian writer Margaretta Pos, describing the final days of her father, Hugo, who lived in the Netherlands.

People cling to life more fiercely than you could ever imagine. Remember that, because it’s important. People do not want to die.

Hugo, dying of cancer, had been granted the right to euthanasia under Netherlands law. His last week was spent farewelling friends. His last night was with family, and Mozart, and with nothing left unsaid. He died peacefully and on his own terms.

That article set me thinking: why can’t we have a law for assisted dying in Australia? What’s stopping it?

So, eight months ago, I set off to try and answer those questions. In that time, I’ve spent hundreds of hours talking with nurses, doctors, politicians, lawyers, academics, priests, surgeons, palliative care specialists and activists on both sides of the debate, both here and overseas.

Above all, I’ve spent time with those who embody the need for this law in Australia: the dying and their families.

Along the way, I’ve discovered two immutable truths. One …

Read the rest of this superb article, HERE

Read Margaretta Pos’ intensely personal article, TT HERE

• Anonymous in Comments: … For 3 days I sat there, the most despairing days of my life. It has been a long, long time, since I have wept as I am weeping now. If one had let a dog die in such a manner, and not called the Vet to administer a humane ending, they would have be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the Law and villified by the world.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Got Me a Twitch

    November 19, 2015 at 9:43 am

    Ridiculous arguments are put up against euthanasia.

    How can you exploit someone who is terminally ill, has little life left, is suffering, and wants to die peacefully now instead of painfully in a week or two?

    The option should be there for those who need it.

    And a doctor should be able to administer the end so a paralysed person can take advantage of euthanasia law. A self-administration law is no good for a paralysed patient.

    Euthanasia is a decision for individuals, not bureaucrats.

    Until the legislation is in place, we remain in the Dark Ages.

  2. Anonymous

    November 18, 2015 at 7:02 am

    Having experienced an experience so close to that of Mr Denton, I whole heartedly agree. Like he, I’m forever scarred by that

    experience of 3 days of watching my Mother die.

    Aortic aneurysm, inoperable, no hope of recovery, so the advice was to remove all sustenance and fluids and the would keep

    her pain at bay by regular morphine injections.

    We chatted for for the first 18 hours or so, then as the condition worsened she would go in and out of conciousness, Sitting

    there listening to her breathing, reflections of my life and hers were as frequent as her moans. The nursing staff attended

    with compassion and would often come in an give her ice to alleviate the dryness in her mouth, administer the morphine as

    often and in the quantities they were allowed, and some of them leaving the room with a tear in their eyes, watching a

    vigilant son grieve and not let go of her hand.

    About the end of the second day, sitting there, and asking myself why this suffering was allowed to continue, I seriously

    looked at a pillow, and had thoughts that a human being should not have to think, No action ensued.

    Final day and her breathing became ragged and her cheeks were sallow and she starting to not look like the fine lady I knew

    and loved…. a final gutteral raspy breath and she was gone.

    For 3 days I sat there, the most despairing days of my life .

    It has been a long, long time, since I have wept as I am weeping now .

    If one had let a dog die in such a manner, and not called the Vet to administer a humane ending, they would have be

    prosecuted to the fullest extent of the Law and villified by the world.

    (The author is known to the Editor)

  3. john hayward

    November 17, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    Polling has indicated that something around 80% of the public favours assisted dying. The resistance seems to be coming in large part from the ranks of politicians.

    Politics is particularly attractive to conservatives, probably due to its offer of their favourite manna, power and wealth. Callousness seems part of the passage.

    We need a pill for skepticism.

    john Hayward

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