SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

May 10, 2018

Fine day/way to “Exit”

Saluting DAVID GOODALL (a kindred soul)

Have this article about a 104 year-old Australian scientist who is making a choice that many may find all the way from remarkable to flat-out unreasonable or even evil.  He is choosing his day to die (today),  in a manner of his choice as well.   This is not triggered by suffering and pain, on the contrary, by many standards, he seems in quite good shape.  The article is short, but in his own words, if interested to know why. 

It is unthinkable to my mind that the magnificence, perfection, intelligence and beauty of anything so immense and complete as that which created all-that-is  (that which is called by many names to infer ‘GOD’). . . .  .  would, in the least – be offended.  For intelligence, mind and choice are built into our design.  If we are to observe and learn from  scripture and other ancient lore. . .or our ever-expanding body of science, we understand that we don’t destroy matter, we alter or change it. Cycles and change are also a part of it all.  All life is in a constant state of flux, from the leaves falling from the tree to the fermentation process going on in my kitchen as I ferment my foods .. Kombucha, sourdough bread (starter) or the tangy vegetables I enjoy making.   Sandor Katz brings all this home beautifully in his book – – WILD FERMENTATION. . . a book people buy for its great food recipes.  Just happens, he also is deep into the nature thing. 

So  then,  do we die?  Sure looks like we do.   Many make a huge deal of it. . rituals, celebrations of one kind or another, burials, cremation.  A great many leave with no one noticing, no fanfare.  Many say its like going to sleep here one day and then waking up in full awareness – elsewhere.  It is said that we are part of the all,  always have been and always will be – – life is eternal.   To get a hint of such simplicity, is kinda comfortable. . not worrying about the mind games of hell and damnation and all the thou shalt(s) and shalt nots.  But I digress.  .  . 

I have [from time to time]  spoken my mind clearly on this issue.  As I believe in self-determination for our own life patterns, so I do also in our own end time or death.  Physician assisted suicide should be legal, an option. I do not mean that all physicians ‘must’ do this on demand, of course. . . but that it should be available – – a painless choice to end a life when there is no desire to continue on.  Much can bring this about, without feeling the need to deliberate the reasons for there are as many reason to check out as there are to really want to live and keep on keeping on.  We are all different.  My personal feeling is much like David’s.  When I loose function, can no longer participate or my senses have all failed me (being a worshiper of beauty in all it’s glorious forms)  – when all choice is gone, why remain? Doesn’t our governmental budgetary needs depress everyone?   Why spend millions, doping, drugging and housing millions who have outlived their usefulness, can’t function, live intolerable pain – – aren’t loved and in many cases, not even known by another? IMO, 9 out of 10 would rather be gone – free.   Why must someone in such circumstances (wanting out of life as he/she knows it)be forced to become a criminal (by certain legal standards) to kill himself?  Or worse yet guilt a loved on into an act of ‘murder’? Where is sanity, heart, ethics in any of this.  How is justice served by forcing frail, weakened,  suffering individuals of any description to an existence of misery? 

We have 6 states which allow physician assisted suicide.  I strongly urge America to wake up and be compassionate to those who suffer (in so many ways) and wish to end it all, because enduring is repugnant for them. Make this the law nationally before such a fate has the potential to place you in such a predicament and unable to help yourself.      Jan



BASEL, Switzerland — A 104-year-old Australian scientist who flew to Switzerland this week to die in an assisted-suicide facility says he has no doubts about going through with his plan on Thursday and hopes his case will draw attention to the issue of aging and dying.

“My abilities and eyesight are declining, and I no longer want to live this way,” David Goodall told reporters from a wheelchair at his last news conference.

Asked if he had any doubts, even fleeting, he said, “None whatsoever.”

“I hope something positive will come out of my story and that other countries will adopt a more liberal view of assisted suicide,” the renowned biologist and ecologist said. “I’d like to be remembered as an instrument for freeing the elderly to choose their own death.”

At the end of the news conference, Goodall was asked what he would choose as his final song. He responded by singing in German Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

“I am happy to have this opportunity, which I call the Swiss option,” he said. “I just wish Australia offered me this possibility. But other countries lag behind Switzerland.”

Goodall, who arrived in Basel on Monday, flew from his home in Perth, Australia, where assisted suicide is banned to Switzerland, where the practice is legal. He has arranged to die at the Lifecircle assisted-suicide center.

He said Wednesday he has had no pressure from his family to change his mind. “My grandson Daniel will be with me in the final hours,” he said.

Assisted suicide is legal in a handful of countries, including Canada, Belgium and the Netherlands, but only applies to their own residents who have incurable diseases.

In the USA, assisted suicide is legal in Oregon, Vermont, Washington, California, Colorado, Hawaii and Washington, D.C. In Montana, medical aid in dying has been legal since a State Supreme Court ruling in 2009

Switzerland’s right-to-die legislation, based on the constitutional right of each person to determine the manner of his or her death, is much broader. It doesn’t exclude foreigners and gives patients the option to end their life if they have psychological or physical problems associated with age.

The Swiss Academy of Medical Science said this year the right to die should be extended to those who are not terminally ill but live with intolerable pain.

Dignitas, one of  Switzerland’s three assisted-death groups, told USA TODAY in a statement that Goodall’s decision is “the consequence of the absurd Australian law, upheld by ignorant politicians, which denies people like Mr. Goodall access to legal, humane and compassionate end-of-suffering options.”

Ruedi Habegger, co-founder of Eternal Spirit, another right-to-die group, said Australia’s refusal is “an atrocity.” Goodall “should be able to die at home in his bed, like we can do here in Switzerland,” he told Swiss media this week.

Goodall, described by the right-to-die group Exit International as its first member, said he tried clumsily to take his life himself at least three times — and then finally decided to get professional help.

Goodall is an honorary research associate at Edith Cowan University in the West Australian capital of Perth and has produced more than 100 research papers and earned three doctorates. In 2016, at 102, the university ordered him to leave his office, calling him a safety risk to himself. Goodall challenged the decision, which was reversed after an outpouring of public support.

Earlier this year, however, Goodall fell while at home alone in his one-bedroom apartment and remained on the floor for two days until he was found by his cleaner, according to The New Daily.

Afterward, Goodall said he was considered incapable of looking after himself. Moreover, most of his friends were dead.

“Up to the age of 90 I was enjoying life, but not now,” he said. “It has passed me by, and I have done the best I can with it.”

His final news conference Wednesday was aimed at drawing attention to his desire to end his life in hopes that countries such as Australia change laws to be more accepting of assisted suicide.

“His story of elective, rational suicide by the elderly is an important one,” said Philip Nitschke, director of Exit International, a right-to-die organization in Australia and other countries where assisted suicide is illegal.

On Thursday, a friend will accompany Goodall to Lifecircle, where he is to receive a fatal dose of barbiturates. The lethal cocktail is normally ingested, but since Goodall can’t swallow, the substance will be injected intravenously. Goodall himself will have to open the valve that releases the liquid to comply with Swiss law that bans the interference of third parties in this process.

“The supply of the drug will be filmed. This is the only reliable evidence that the (patient) has executed the application himself/herself and in full awareness,” Lifecircle explained on its website.

“Falling asleep occurs within a few minutes. Death usually follows within half an hour,” the group said.

Some religious groups and others have spoken against the voluntary death. In 2016, a Swiss bishop told Catholic priests not to give last rites to people seeking assisted suicide.

No one can financially benefit from an assisted suicide, and patients must be mentally capable of making the decision and not be coerced by someone else. A Swiss doctor was to question Goodall to make sure he is of sound mind and his wish to die is well thought out.

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