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.

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.

“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.

“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.

“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?


  1. The watcher  

    Faith based dogma has no basis anywhere, especially when ending ones own life. If not given a legal exit and when requested, many of us will make alternative plans to do it anyway. But that is risky with fake drugs on the internet and police and their mates in the border farce prepared to make our last days uncomfortable while rifling our possessions. I plan to travel where nembutal is legal, book in a 5 star hotel with friends, have a party, say goodbye and take the drugs alone.
    That is sad, but not as sad as screaming in pain and pleading to die or left alone to die on a hard bed in an indifferent hospital ward while they search for someone to admister more morphine. That is sick and sad. Let us go with dignity and when we are ready.
    There are no issues that cannot be resolved as in the Netherlands, Switzerland and other civilised places. It is yet another example of religious law being shoved down our throats. Suffering doesnt take you closer to any god, it just bloody hurts, and hurts and hurts and goes on hurting. Hour after hour, day after day. Impossible to live yet your body just wont die. Dont bug me with palliative care arguments unless you have experienced the truth of it in a public aged care facilty or critical care unit. I HAVE.
    If deathbed wishes are binding, why not the manner of my death? It is not anyone’s business but my own. And if you wish, between me and my god. You and your beliefs don’t enter that relationship.

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