Should this doctor be arrested for helping people die?

Did you catch last night’s Q&A? It was an emotive, but not emotional discussion about euthanasia and the right to die
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Did you catch last night’s Q&A? It was an emotive, but not emotional discussion about euthanasia and the right to die here in Australia, with a panel made up of advocates and specialist doctors, plus Andrew Denton, who has spent eight months researching laws in Oregon, the Netherlands and Belgium where euthanasia is allowed.

There were many memorable moments in the show, such as the opening question by Sally Crossing, who has terminal metastatic breast cancer, who asked, “I want the supreme comfort of knowing my life can be ended if and when I decide enough is enough. Can anyone put a cogent argument as to why I should be denied this choice?”

But one of the most fascinating moments was when Rodney Syme, a surgeon and president of Dying with Dignity Victoria, explained that he had given patients the illegal drug Nembutal in the knowledge of what they might do with it.

He said, “I have openly gone and stated to the police that I have given a man Nembutal.”

“I have described the circumstances in which that happened. At the end of the day, the policeman said to me very kindly: ‘I don’t think there is enough evidence to prosecute.’”

After some questioning from host Tony Jones, Dr Symes said he would welcome the opportunity to be prosecuted so he can argue the case for euthanasia in court.

 Tony Jones asked Dr Syme: “Are you actually trying to provoke the police to prosecute you? So you can have a test case?”

“Yes, indeed,” replied Dr Syme.

See his argument below:

Let’s talk: Do you think the doctor should get his day in court? Is it time for the euthanasia debate to be moved forward? Where do you stand on the issue?

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  1. He accepted an oath to preserve life and not do harm. He’s just a murderer with a medical degree.

    • My mother in law took eleven days to die no water no drips it was terrible for us to stand by so much better if the doctor could have given her an injection she could not have got better and she was ninety four my cat and dog had a kinder ending so why is it so bad i do think we don’t ask to come in to this would but we should be able to leave it when we think it’s right .

    • and these people who have watched their loved ones die in pain and don’t want the same for themselves are entitled to disagree with you. It is people like you, who make it harder for all of us to be allowed to die with dignity

    • Your comments!!!!…..NO ONE who nurses terminally ill people till their last breath could possibly want see that suffering extended. It would be inhuman.

    • Both my parents had terminal illnesses, and suffered for a long time. However, both of them fought for life right to the end, and neither of them wanted to give up.

      Yes, it was hard for them to cope with the pain and suffering, and it was hard for us to see them go through it, but, they both faced their illnesses with determination and immense courage. They made it clear that they considered life to be a precious gift, and that neither they, or anyone else had the right to cut it short. I applaud their stance, and respect it

      • Lynne Highfield  

        Everyone should be permitted, legally, to have a choice as to how they personally wish to end their suffering. For those who believe life is sacrosanct…it is! But, at the beginning of the end of it, one should have the right to choose between the two alternatives. No-one, be it the government, those with religious beliefs or family should be permitted to override such a personal choice.

    • You are rude to everyone Baf continually, why not would you expect people to be polite to you? on such an emotive subject that will affect all of us at some time or another?

    • I totally agree with you Maureen Hogan, it is a personal choice. However some just want it to end and they too should have that choice respected.

    • Maureen…that’s a common story I continually hear. Thank you for sharing what must have been a very painful experience for your parents and yourself.

    • So Baf, what will you do when your wife or child is diagnosed with a terminal illness and they want to die and end the suffering?? Will you go with their will, or will you deny this and let them die naturally, and in great pain. Not being rude, or snotty, just curious?.

    • What makes you think I haven’t been through that already and managed it without murdering them? Please mind your manners.

    • Don’t call me “love” that’s not respectful.. You demand respect and call people Man haters…there is something wrong with you.

  2. I watched it and NO he should not be arrested, he was almost daring the police to arrest him, from my perspective allowing someone to die with dignity and without lingering with severe pain is a charitable deed, and not a crime. It was an interesting show and Andrew Denton spoke with such intelligence on the subject of Euthanasia , which he supports

    • so do I, I watched my mother linger for a week in and out of a comma begging me to kill her, it was the cruelest thing I have ever seen

    • Absolutely agree with you Libbi. It was a great show. I was very impressed with Andrew Denton and this doctor. Over dosing someone with morphine is legal but allowing someone to die with dignity sooner isn’t ….. I don’t get that.

    • My mother had a severe stroke. Never talked again but her eyes said it all. Broke my heart. Four years she lingered on. I wish he had been around.

    • Everybody should have the right to die with dignity and not forced to endure the suffering because of our narrow minded politicians and religious zealots. 🙁

    • When my sister with Dementia has a lucid moment she tells me I just want to die,she asked me for help once and I tried to explain I would end up in jail.This is a horrible debilitating disease and no one should have to live like that.There is 20 residents in the unit where my sister is and my heart breaks for all of them, I show all of them love and kindness every day I’m there ,which is 3 times a week unless because of illness I can’t be there.My sister has do not resuscitate which will come into play should it be appropriate,all anyone can do is be loving and patient ,hopefully the laws on Euthanasia will change sooner rather then later.

    • My father requested to be taken off his medication and they put him on a morphine drip and he passed away. He had a choice.

    • That was your dads choice Janice and I respect that but that is a slower death , than what I want. I would prefer to pass on without any pain at all, if I am going to die anyway I can’t see the point in lingering in pain

  3. I would love the choice of ending my life with help from a doctor,if I had a disease ,my sister (66) has Dementia and it’s so devastating to see her living this way.Euthanasia should be legal,no one should be jailed for ending a persons suffering.

    • If anyone hv watched someone they love dying slowly with ALZ they will surely agree with Andrew

    • I once saw on the News an elderly man ended his wives suffering ,he couldn’t bare it any longer ,they arrested him for murder but because of his age he didn’t have to go to jail,also his wife had begged him to end his life ,this poor old man should never of had to go through this .

    • in europe they are allowing 24yo with depression to die this way is where it finishes that frightens me

    • Graeme Condely I don’t believe that. As far as I’m aware they have to be assessed by professionals many times prior to a decision being made, so I don’t know where you get your information from. I have watched two documentaries on this subject and they were certainly assessed prior to being given the lethal dose, and it actually showed them taking this dose and going away very peacefully.

    • Graeme C- I find this fact hard to believe, but if true, then surely legislation could be framed in such a way to avoid things like this happening as well as the other scaremongering situations anti-euthanasia proponents put forward.

    • Caryn Spriggs, I just read through this article …. it doesn’t actually say if her wish was granted. I never accused anyone of lying, I stated that I didn’t believe what Graeme had said.

    • Graham is delusional, you will have to excuse him 🙂 and read again what Victoria said..she is correct

    • And I posted an article showing what he said was correct. The Belgian government had approved her request which is what he stated. Just because you don’t want to believe it does not make it any less true sadly.

  4. Thank you to this brave man for standing by what the majority of people in Australia want. If it were in my power, I would do the same. And if that makes me a murderer in the eyes of people like Baf Kuka, I can live with that. What I find much harder to live with is watching the slow and painful death of a loved one. Spending the last two weeks with her day and night, listening to her struggling for breath through the death rattle, watching her wince in pain, wither away to a shell unable to eat and finally so tiny that her rings fall off her fingers. That I was unable to help her pass, I find very hard to live with.

    • Debbie Ward Thanks for your kind thoughts. It was hard although many on here have had it worse. It was hard enough that I sat there wondering if I should just put a pillow over her face. I didn’t have the courage to do that. Before dementia destroyed her brain my mum had been quite clear that she did not want to have her life prolonged and was happy to have it ended. We knew her wishes but I even had to fight for the normal end of life meds for her. Her doctor and one nurse were not keen to give her full doses. The other RN’s were great but at the end of a long life well lived, why oh why do we insist that there be no choice? For those who believe it’s murder or a sin, don’t use the nembutal, but don’t impose your beliefs on those of us who are not of that same mindset.

  5. Yes, he should have his day in court, not that anyone will listen to him. As the people who came before him realized it will get nowhere until the stupid Drs in high places will say it is ok and take it to the govt. Can’t see that happening in the near future. I have had cause to see a few specialists over the past 5 years and as i tell my wife on many visits the sooner these old bastards retire and the new blood starts coming up through the ranks the better. You can talk to the young one’s, not like the old set in their ways idiots, as i prefer to call them. On a closing note as far as it is concerned if the need arises with me and it may or may not i will choose how i die. No clown in power will tell me, its my life so stuff them.

  6. Yes I do think he should get the opportunity to argue his case in court for euthanasia, I believe everyone should have the right to end his/her life with dignity when it gets to tough for them to carry on.

    • Exactly, I have a great deal of respect for anyone fighting the fight to change the laws on euthanasia.

  7. This question is getting old. Everyone has the right to decide how and when they wish to die. End of story. Will this man going to court change the law? I suspect not.

    • Yes, the question is getting old because no-one is doing anything about it. Where on earth did you get the idea that we have a right to decide how and when we die? We have no rights and that was what the show was about.

    • We have this choice now, what we don’t have is the right to ask someone to do this for us.

  8. As a society we are just getting SO squeamish about death. It’s just not something to be swept under the carpet and not dealing with this does absolutely no good whatsoever.

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