'Shame it has come to this': Group designs legal way to die
THE failure of weak-willed politicians to respond with appropriate legislation to the wishes of the incurably ill had made the creation of a so-called death machine inevitable, according to a Sunshine Coast-based leading euthanasia advocate.
Marshall Perron last week gave evidence via Skype to a Western Australian state parliamentary committee which had received 600-800 submissions for and against assisted-dying reforms.
He said fellow euthanasia advocate Dr Philip Nitschke and the Nutech Group had developed the Sarco capsule as a response to the gauntlet legislators continued to create for people who wanted to end their lives.
The group meets annually to consider the latest techniques for painless death in a bid, Mr Perren said, to end reliance on the gun, the rope or a high building.
"It's a shame it has come to this", Mr Perron said of the Sarco suicide machine developed by Dr Nitschke.
"Philip and his colleagues work diligently because legislation was not available to allow people wanting to end their life to seek medical advice."
The Sarco was essentially a downloadable, 3D-printed two-part, easy-to-assemble capsule, the bottom half of which could release a gas that diminished oxygen levels in the blood leading to a painless death.
The device required users to first successfully respond to a competency test before it activated.
Suicide was not illegal as were none of the components in the Sarco including the gas. The top half of the capsule could then double as a coffin.
Mr Perron said even where the law had been changed, most recently in Victoria, politicians ensure it didn't cover everyone.
That left those who were incurably ill, not terminally ill, to seek more violent ends than could be delivered through medically-assisted solutions.
"People should be entitled to a peaceful pill," he said.
"Legislation requires medical clearance to end life. Why should a rational person have to ask permission to die - that's where Philip's coming from. He's had to create a machine to access that by right."
Mr Perron said legislation enacted in Victoria which was limited to the terminally ill had sought to 'out-safeguard' everybody else with the most conservative legislation in practice.
"The gauntlet is unreasonably complex," he said.
Mr Perron said Oregon had introduced legislation which was a simple, short document that was backed by 20 years' experience of its use.