Due to the current lack of choice at the end of life, some people are forced into making desperate decisions. Although the need for change and open dialogue between doctors and patients is clear – the answer is not to do what Dr Nitschke is doing, and act outside the law.
Dr Nitschke is not in a position to explore the reasons behind someone’s request to die, or offer alternatives in the way of palliative care, better social care or mental health support – and this is what dying adults need, as well as the choice of an assisted death within safeguards if they are suffering unbearably.
What we need is a change in the law to allow the choice of assisted dying; where healthcare professionals confirm diagnosis, mental competence and ensure that all other care and treatment options have been fully explored. We want terminally ill adults to have the choice to end unnecessary suffering, but within a framework to protect against potential abuse, and we will continue to work within the law to change it to this end.