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The Exit Internationalist

September 21, 2021

25 Years Ago Today

25 Years Ago Today Bob Dent received world’s 1st Legal Lethal Voluntary Injection

MEDIA RELEASE – 22 September 2021

On Sunday 22 September 1996, at around 3pm in his home in Darwin, 66-year old Bob Dent (suffering from prostate cancer) pressed the ‘YES’ button on the Deliverance Euthanasia Machine to activate a lethal injection. He died peacefully in the arms of his wife Judy.

Bob was the first person to use the Northern Territory’s ground-breaking Rights of the Terminally Ill Act to put an end to his suffering.

The ROTI Act was the world’s first legislation that allowed a doctor to use a lethal injection to legally end the life of a terminally ill patient.

Four people would use the ROTI law before it was overturned by a conscience vote in Federal parliament the following year.

As he farewell letter Bob wrote:

I read with increasing horror newspaper stories of Kevin Andrews’ attempt to overturn the most compassionate piece of legislation in the world.

If you disagree with voluntary euthanasia, then don’t use it, but don’t deny me the right to use it if and when I want to.

The full text of his letter can be found on this site under Exit Remembers

Speaking from Amsterdam where he is now lives, Exit Director Philip Nitschke has said:

Bob told me he felt he was lucky to be able to be able to benefit from such compassionate legislation.

He was especially grateful to former Territory Chief Minister, Marshall Perron, for having the courage and foresight to guide and draft this law through the NT Assembly.

I know that Bob would have been devastated not only by the fact the ROTI law lasted such a short period of time but that 25 years on, the Territory is still lawless when it comes to voluntary euthanasia.

25 years ago today

In the intervening 25 years, the right to die issue has progressed rapidly in other countries with Australia playing catch-up in only now passed right to die laws.

In the Netherlands, which is home to a mature and nuanced public debate on end of life choice, the cutting-edge issue is the right for all rational adults to ask for help to die.

The Dutch are looking at expanding the law beyond those who are seriously ill or suffering to everyone over the age of 70 years, regardless of reason.

It is a national embarrassment that the Territories of Australia still can’t pass end of life laws.

The Kevin Andrews Act (Euthanasia Laws Act) was an abuse of Federal legislative powers.

The Australian Constitution (section 122) should never have been used for such a dastardly, backward-looking act as overturning the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act.

‘The irony of this situation would not have escaped Bob Dent and the three others who died with dignity in Darwin’, said Nitschke.

END_______                22 September 2021

Contact: Dr Philip Nitschke    +31 6309 66992     or   +61 407 189 339
Email:    Web: 

Read the Sydney Morning Herald story on the death of Bob Dent, published 27 September 1996