February 28, 2021
Demand for Swiss assisted dying: clinic inquiries soar
Hayden Johnson, Courier Mail
Queenslanders desperate for a painless death are turning to Switzerland’s world renowned assisted-dying clinic ahead of the state considering its own end-of-life laws.
Pegasos, voluntary assisted dying clinic based in the northern Swiss town of Basel, is receiving almost daily inquiries from Queenslanders.
The clinic which opened in 2019 has received more inquiries from Queensland than any other state in Australia.
Pegasos spokeswoman, Fiona Stewart, said the clinic had recorded a growing number of referrals from Australia.
‘Pegasos has regular weekly, sometimes daily, inquiries from fold in Queensland’ she said. ‘People are not necessarily looking to Pegasos to die, but they are looking for choice.
‘Most people hope they will never need to use Pegasos, but they get great comfort knowing that if things get too bad, or if they are face with moving into a nursing home for example, they have a choice’.
Pegasos helps people to die with the injection of a lethal drug or the ingestion of a small drink, with death usually occurring seconds after the patient goes to sleep.
Participants must meet several clinic and Swiss safeguards before being allowed to end their life.
‘A successful application and the so-called green light can sit there for years unused until the moment of need, or it may never be used’ Ms Stewart said.
The Queensland government is set to introduce assisted-dying legislation to parliament before June after consideration by the Queensland Law Reform Commission (QLRC).
Ms Stewart- the partner of prominent euthanasia activist Philip Nitschke – said Queensland’s law should replicate Switzerland’s, where any person can legally be assisted to die as long as they are of sound mind and initiate the final action themselves.
‘The Swiss system is a fairer, more inclusive system, which has worked well for decades’ she said.
Queensland’s legislation is expected to permit assisted dying only to people with a terminal illness, a restriction Ms Stewart says will ‘exclude far more deserving people than it will ever help’.
‘No one should be excluded from having a good death, just because we were not sick enough to qualify for help under the law’ she said.
Ms Stewart revealed that an increasing number of couples, including several from Queensland, were ‘planning to go together’.
‘They will never qualify under the Queensland law if it goes the way of the Victorian and West Australian legislative models’ she said.
On 24 February, the QLRC was reported in The Australian as ‘Queensland’s voluntary assisted dying scheme will be available only to people who are suffering and dying, not those who want to die because they are tired of life or in decline, the states law reform body says’.
So much for the Swiss model!
Further delays to the legislation were announced by the Queensland government on 25 February.