Australia euthanasia debate: Elderly woman swears at an ethics expert

By @mik_mapa on
Chile's President Michelle Bachelet (R) poses for a selfie with Valentina Maureira, a 14-year old girl who suffers from cystic fibrosis, at an hospital room in Santiago, February 28, 2015. Maureira made an emotional plea to be allowed to die, filming herself asking Bachelet to authorize her euthanasia. Reuters/Ximena Navarro

An elderly woman swore at an ethics expert during a heated exchange about euthanasia on ABC's Q&A. The unnamed elderly woman said that both she and her husband Ron decided to end their own lives when they can no longer take care of themselves. However, University of Notre Dame Australia Bioethics professor Margaret Somerville said that legalising the assisted dying did not uphold respect for life at a societal level.

Somerville pointed out that the assisted dying could lead to a slippery slope. She said that the death would not affect the person who underwent euthanasia but it would affect their family and their community. She described death as a social event. "And ultimately, if what we're doing in society is changing the law to allow this type of, putting it bluntly, killing, then it is a seismic shift in our values as a society," she said.

However, the elderly woman disagreed Somerville's claim that death has to do with the community. She cut the professor with a perfectly-timed response b******t. The woman cleared that she and her husband were in good health and they did not have the intention to take their own lives until they needed to do it. She said that it was not about killing anyone instead they would be doing it themselves. "I'm not asking Ron to kill me. I will do it myself. And Ron will do it himself. I don't know what you're on about, darling, about killing. That is definitely the wrong word to be using," the woman said.

The professor also had a clash with her fellow panellist Nikki Gemmell over the issue on assisted dying. The issue was about the numbers of deaths that came without consent or justification. Gemmell cited her mother's death during the debate saying that her mother took her own life without alerting any of her family due to the fear of implicating the family members legally. She also cited her friend who planned to die in a Dutch assisted dying centre. She said that the centre has several requirements needed to grant a person's right to die.

Gemmell said that there were ordinary hoops needed to be accepted into a euthanasia program in the Netherlands, Belgium and America. She said that if Victoria would have something similar to the policy implemented by the mentioned countries, they would get some good news about the situation. However, Sommerville said that the information Gemmell said was not correct. The professor said that 1.7 percent of all death in the Netherlands were done without any consent or knowledge of the person who received a lethal injection. Gemmell said that checks and balances were implemented that her friend needed to provide dental records due to the fear of impostors.

Currently, euthanasia is a contentious issue in the country that individuals would face charges in some states when they have proven to have an involvement in a person's plans to take their own life.

Q&A voluntary euthanasia debate

YouTube/ABC News (Australia)