Bit of a serious one...sorry!
There's a local movie on the circuit at the moment: It's called Last Cab to Darwin. The plot deals with:
"Taking advantage of the controversial Northern Territory’s Voluntary euthanasia law Max decides to end his own life with dignity. His request under the law is in bitter dispute but Max sells up everything he owned, says goodbye to his neighbor and good friend Polly, and drives the great distance from Broken Hill, New South Wales to Darwin, Northern Territory where taking his own life would be legal"
I didn't know that the Northern Territory had such laws.
A few weeks ago I was reading the local paper and came across an article in the letters section. It said that as voters will be called upon to vote for / against same sex marriage in the next election it would be the perfect opportunity to include a vote on voluntary euthanasia at the same time.
Does anyone have any thoughts on this...for or against such a vote or policy?
It was never something that I gave much thought to. It's been brought into focus for me by my mother in law having a 'do not resus' instruction on her hospital bed and another family member who has a degenerative illness. It's confronting to be told by them that they will end their own life when the quality of life gets too bad. I guess that you have to walk in their shoes to really understand?
Here is an article dealing with the law in Belgium. It's featured in a programme on SBS this evening.
The reality of euthanasia: When people with psychological problems choose to die
- EMMA REYNOLDS
- SEPTEMBER 15, 2015 6:22PM
Dateline: Allow me to die
Simona de Moor asked her doctor to end her life after the death of her daughter.
FIVE minutes after Simona de Moor heard her daughter had died from a heart attack, she decided she wanted to end her life, too.
The 85-year-old mother, who was considered healthy by doctors and was not taking any medication, made arrangements to be quietly put to death.More than 8000 people, probably more, have been euthanised in Belgium, where assisted suicide has been legal for 13 years.
Patients don’t have to be terminally ill, just deemed to be suffering “incurable, unbearable pain” by a doctor.The country has faced controversy over the soaring numbers of cases in which people with psychological problems, from depression to dementia, are asking to die.
With the rest of the world moving towards bringing in euthanasia laws, some people are asking where and how you draw the line.Journalist Brett Mason went to Belgium to film Simona’s final moments for a Dateline special that airs tonight at 9.30pm on SBS. He watched her take a sip of a drink from her doctor, smile calmly and say “finally” and “thank you” before slipping into a final oblivion.
Despite Brett having witnessed death in both his personal and professional life, watching Simona’s assisted suicide was extraordinarily emotional.“I found it extremely difficult knowing when, where and how someone was going to die,” he toldnews.com.au“It was even harder to process because Simona and I got on very well. If I am as healthy and sharp-witted as she was when I’m 85, I’ll be very impressed.“I have no doubt Simona wanted to die that day. But I can’t help but wonder if she’d feel the same in a few months when the initial shock and pain of her daughter’s death has lessened.”
Peter Ketelslegers, pictured with wife Conny and their two boys, plans to end his life because he suffers from intensely painful, incurable cluster headaches.
While the physically ill still make up the majority of those receiving euthanasia in Belgium, more cases of people with mental health issues are emerging.“This year, it’s been reported that a 24-year-old female has been approved for euthanasia on the grounds of incurable depression,” said Brett. “In 2012, identical twins who were born deaf were granted euthanasia because they were beginning to lose their eyesight. In 2014, a convicted killer and sex offender applied for euthanasia because in prison he was suffering unbearable psychological suffering.A year earlier a woman was granted euthanasia on the same grounds following a failed sex change operation.
”There is no minimum age, so children can also request euthanasia, although they have to be terminally ill and a psychologist has to determine their maturity to make the decision.Dr Marc Van Hoey, who administered Simona’s death, is one of Belgium’s most vocal euthanasia advocates and has assisted in the suicides of more than 100 people.“A lot of elderly people are not really suffering in the narrow meaning of the word, but one, plus one, plus one, plus one, makes a whole,” he told the program.“That, in addition to their age gives them no future, there is nothing left any more, and so quite often they say, ‘I’ve had it with my life’.”Dutch psychiatrist Boudewijn Chabot agrees. He was an early member of the palliative care team in the Netherlands, the first country in the world to legalise euthanasia. His father had refused medical treatment for his cardiac complaints and deliberately let himself be taken by a heart attack.“His death made me search how a self-chosen, lonely death can be turned into a gentle death surrounded by loved ones,” said Dr Chabot.“I now consider dying ultimately as a matter of private choice as long as an individual is competent. In my opinion, physicians should be compassionate towards requests for PAD [physician assisted dying] from patients who suffer from a disease in a terminal phase. But they should be wary to provide PAD in early dementia cases and emphatically in psychiatric patients.”Those who are against the idea say Belgium’s legislation is unnecessarily encouraging euthanasia.Ethicist Theo Boer, who reviewed around 4000 cases for the Dutch Euthanasia Commission, resigned last year.“There were several cases where we did accept the case, where I had sleepless nights,” he toldDateline.“Something is going terribly wrong. What I see in Belgium is an unprecedented action in favour of euthanasia by both the review committee and by many politicians.“Euthanasia and assisted dying increasingly are being used for patients that have months or years or even decades to live.”
His son reads him his card on father’s day.
Peter’s excruciating headaches strike several times a day.
Belgium’s laws are based on the Netherlands, with similar safeguards. Cases are reviewed by a 16-member panel, but only after the death has occurred.“Any doctor can perform euthanasia,” said Brett. “Many doctors who perform euthanasia are not reporting them to the commission, which they are obliged to under the law. There is a perception that little is being done to monitor and police these laws, which is extremely concerning given we are talking about life and death.“Remarkably, the commission only reviews and approves a euthanasia after it has been performed, which is obviously far too late if there are questions.”Some opponents of the Belgium laws told the program they were concerned about doctors pushing the boundaries, “applying their own interpretations of what does and doesn’t represent ‘unbearable suffering’.”Peter Ketelslegers, a 32-year-old married father of two boys, told Dateline he too is considering euthanasia. He suffers cluster headaches, which can last up to three hours, several times a day. They won’t kill him, but there’s no known cure.“It’s like a knife being stuck in my head,” he said.“It spreads through my whole head. I hit it to get rid of the pain. If there’s no other solution than just an injection, and gone … do I have to say it?“I don’t want to be a burden to anyone … I should take care of the children rather than them taking care of me, but I can’t.”Peter’s euthanasia has already been approved by two doctors, and he’s now awaiting a third and final assessment. But he’s still holding out for an alternative solution.His wife, Conny, says she will let him have his wish, “with pain in my heart.”“You would be enormously selfish to keep your husband with you when you know that he’s in so much pain,” she added.Sometimes, family members are not even informed. Tom Mortier’s mother was euthanised for depression without his knowledge.“If you’re also going to include mental suffering then it’s really a Pandora’s box,” he told the program. “It’s very, very, very difficult to have a good law on euthanasia.”We could be looking at Australia’s future. In July, the Victorian parliamentary inquiry into end of life choices began hearing from medical professionals and palliative care providers about possible changes to Australia’s legislative framework. The inquiry will report back on 31 May 2016.An Assisted Dying Bill was debated in the UK parliament this month, but did not pass its second reading debate on 11 September and will make no further progress.It’s clear that giving people the right to die is not a simple decision.“Most of us have reached a low in our lives where we’ve lost a loved one or suffered a trauma,” said Brett.“The challenge for doctors — many with no psychological training — is being able to make that call and know when someone’s pain isn’t going to heal. I’m not sure I could. For me, there will always be a ‘what if” with Simona’s euthanasia.
”For crisis or suicide prevention support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visitwww.lifeline.org.au/gethelp.Watch this one-hour Dateline special tonight at 9.30pm on SBS.Originally published as The grim reality of the euthanasia debate