Greg Davies, Byron Bay
Legislating for the right to die, or ‘assisted death’, is not a simpler issue than rocket science.
Laws intended to be compassionate also bring opportunities for abuse from the darker side of human nature, especially for the vulnerable aged and dying.
Reliability of the consent obtained for assisted death is questionable when those unfortunate enough to succumb to a painful fatal disease are likely to be doped to delirium on morphine and other drugs.
Loss of faculties such as sight and speech increase the chance of human error when interpreting the sufferer’s wishes.
Dementia sufferers: estimated to number 250,000 over-65-year-olds and one in four over-85-year-olds (Access Economics, Aug 2009) may be adversely affected.
With their decision-making capacities delegated to legally appointed guardians and financial managers, an increasing number of elderly could have their choices to live or to die decided for them by state government trustees.
One way for a person to assert their right to die humanely might be for them to define their limits beforehand. Instructions of the person’s wishes could then be given to the authorities before their faculties or sensibilities were lost.