Doctor warns of dangers of keeping voluntary euthanasia illegal

There’s been a lot of talk in the news recently about voluntary euthanasia and the right to die with dignity.

Now one of the advocates pushing for change has issued a warning about the dangers of not making voluntary euthanasia legal.

Dr Rodney Syme has told Nine News that denying people the right to die with dignity could see them turn to “violent” and “dangerous” methods of ending their lives.

“The evidence we know tells us that if you have a person with a chronic or terminal illness and they can’t talk to a doctor about other options, then they very well might take painful and violent options to achieve their goal,” he said.

The 81-year-old doctor, who has risked jail in the past over his decision to give patients access to the deadly drug Nembutal, pointed to decisions overseas as showing how far behind Australia had fallen when it comes to social change.

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“Australia in the early 20th century was very much spearheading global social change, but today we are lagging on so many fronts,” he said.

“This is an issue that will not go away and support for it is growing from all over the country.”

So, what does Dr Syme suggest?

He suggests medication such as Nembutal should at least be legalised because giving people “control” was great comfort them.

“I have had patients who I have been in long dialogue with and I have given them medication because they were desperate and close to the end. And many of them have gone on much longer than I anticipated,” he said.

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“Just knowing they have the drugs is a great comfort to them.”

We’ve all heard the arguments for voluntary euthanasia.

But what about those against it?

Director of euthanasia prevention group Hope, Paul Russell has questioned proposed voluntary euthanasia legislation in South Australia.

He said he doesn’t know anyone who is qualified to help end someone’s life.

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“If we start doing it then we walk further away from that line that says we don’t kill,” he told Nine News.

“In a time when we have serious problems with youth and elderly suicide in this country, changing legislation to allow euthanasia sends a really mixed message to our society.”

He also believes that giving people access to drugs such as Nembutal could open a flood gate for abuse.

“There is no way of knowing if a person takes those drugs they are given voluntarily. However, we have an ethical responsibility to ensure a patient is not in pain and that might mean a doctor making someone unconscious,” he said.

“A person has a right to refuse medical treatment or to simply say just make me comfortable and let me pass away. That is a natural death.”

What do you think? Is Dr Syme’s warning right?