.- Botanist and ecologist David Goodall ended his life May 10 in Switzerland by assisted suicide, a procedure which he had long advocated legalizing in his home country of Australia.
Goodall, 104, told journalists that he “looked forward” to ending his life and regretted not having ended it sooner, though he is not terminally ill. He also said he regretted that he had to travel all the way to Switzerland commit suicide.
Australia’s Victoria state has passed an assisted suicide law that will go into effect in 2019, but it only allows for terminally ill patients to end their lives – Goodall would not have qualified under the law.
Critics have said that Goodall’s death was not simply a personal choice, but a political one that could have devastating consequences on vulnerable populations such as the elderly, the poor, and the disabled.
“It was clear he wanted to go out while getting a lot of attention,” said Stephen Drake, a research analyst with the advocacy group Not Dead Yet, a disability rights group which opposes the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia “as deadly forms of discrimination.”
“If someone acts as he does, for people to call it a personal act is a lie; it was a political act,” Drake told CNA.
Only a handful of countries have legalized assisted suicide or euthanasia, including Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. In Switzerland, while assisted suicide is technically not legal, it is allowed under certain circumstances.
In the United States, assisted suicide is currently legal in Colorado, Vermont, Washington, California, Oregon, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia. The State Supreme Court of Montana decriminalized assisted suicide for physicians in 2009.
Currently, most legislation that allows for assisted suicide or euthanasia does so only in the cases of terminally ill patients.
However, Goodall’s case demonstrates that this is only the beginning for assisted suicide advocates, Drake noted.
Terminal illness is “the wedge issue that most people can agree on, that opens the door,” he said.
“Once you open the door, then the campaign becomes to kick it open as far as you can, and it shows that opponents in Australia who’ve been fighting to prevent the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia are right on target when they say that this will begin to expand in very short order,” he added.
“Now the cause will be: why are we preventing poor old people from ending their lives?” he said.
Read more at Catholic News Agency.