104-year-old Australian scientist seeks Swiss euthanasia

SYDNEY — Australian supporters of voluntary euthanasia fear doctors will try to prevent a 104-year-old scientist from flying to Switzerland this week to end his life through that country's program of legal assisted dying.

Renowned academic David Goodall has made arrangements to travel to the Swiss city of Basel, where an end of life clinic has approved his application for euthanasia, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported Tuesday.

Goodall, an honorary research associate at Edith Cowan University in the West Australian capital of Perth, does not have a terminal illness, but is seeking voluntary euthanasia — which is illegal in Australia — on the grounds his quality of life has deteriorated.

Australian voluntary euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke said Tuesday he fears doctors in Perth will oppose Goodall's plan to travel because his condition is not serious enough to warrant him taking his own life.

Nitschke said Goodall was hospitalized earlier this year following a failed attempt to kill himself after he was injured in a fall.

"The doctors started to say, 'He's talking about ending his life, there's nothing much wrong with him, so therefore he's a risk to himself,'" Nitschke said.

He said Goodall and his daughter Karen Goodall-Smith are concerned that doctors who treated the centenarian will mark him as unfit to fly to block his plan to travel to Switzerland.

"I don't know if they're making moves to try and stop him. I don't know whether they would be successful or whether it's just a threat," Nitschke said. "It's worrying the hell out of David and his daughter."

Nitschke said Goodall-Smith had to fight to have her father released from the hospital after his attempt to kill himself, including arranging an independent psychiatric review. The ABC reported that Goodall made repeated unsuccessful attempts to kill himself in the past 12 months.

Nitschke said Goodall was especially eager to leave Australia after his recent hospital experience.

"On the basis of that, he said, 'enough is enough — now's the time to die,'" Nitschke said.

Goodall made headlines in 2016 when, aged 102, his university ordered him to vacate his office, saying he was a safety risk to himself. He challenged the decision and, with widespread public support, it was reversed.

In a recent interview, Goodall said he had the full support of his family in his wish to end his life, and hoped others would also understand.

"I am 104 years old so I haven't got much time left anyway," he told the ABC.

"I might as well not have it (my health) getting worse and worse, making me unhappy as it goes."

Euthanasia is illegal in Australia on a national level, though some of the country's states and territories have passed laws on the practice.

Nitschke led a successful campaign to have euthanasia legalized in Australia's Northern Territory in 1995, but it was outlawed by federal legislation in 1997.

Victoria state has passed a bill to allow euthanasia, but it will not come into effect until mid-2019.

A West Australian parliamentary inquiry into the issue is due to submit its recommendations in August.

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