Scientist, 104, leaves Australia to end his life

Dr David Goodall being seen off by his grandson at Perth Airport on Wednesday. The scientist, who has no terminal illness, was forced to work closer to home and to give up driving.
Dr David Goodall being seen off by his grandson at Perth Airport on Wednesday. The scientist, who has no terminal illness, was forced to work closer to home and to give up driving.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

The biologist says his quality of life has declined and he resents having to fly to Europe to end it

SYDNEY • Australia's oldest scientist, wearing a top labelled "ageing disgracefully", has left the country for Switzerland to end his life at the age of 104, saying he is resentful that he must go overseas to die.

Dr David Goodall does not have a terminal illness but his quality of life has deteriorated and he has secured a fast-track appointment with assisted dying agency Life Circle in Basel.

The ecologist and botanist got on a plane in Perth on Wednesday surrounded by friends and family saying final goodbyes, euthanasia advocates told Agence France-Presse.

He will spend several days with other family members in France, before heading to Switzerland, where he is due to end his life next Thursday.

"I don't want to go to Switzerland, though it's a nice country," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) before leaving.

"But I have to do that in order to get the opportunity of suicide, which the Australian system does not permit. I feel very resentful."

NO CHOICE

I don't want to go to Switzerland, though it's a nice country. But I have to do that in order to get the opportunity of suicide, which the Australian system does not permit. I feel very resentful.

DR DAVID GOODALL

Assisted suicide is illegal in most countries around the world and was banned in Australia until the state of Victoria became the first to legalise it last year.

But that legislation, which takes effect from June next year, only applies to terminally ill patients of sound mind and a life expectancy of less than six months.

Exit International, which helped Dr Goodall make the trip, said that it was unjust that one of Australia's "oldest and most prominent citizens should be forced to travel to the other side of the world to die with dignity".

Dr Goodall, an honorary research associate at Perth's Edith Cowan University, made international headlines in 2016 when he was declared unfit to be on campus.

After an uproar and support from scientists globally, the decision was reversed but he was forced to work at a location closer to his small flat in Perth.

Mrs Carol O'Neill, an Exit International representative who accompanied Dr Goodall on his flight, said the dispute came at a time when he was also forced to give up driving and performing in theatre.

Dr Goodall's decision to end his life was hastened by a serious fall at home last month, reported the BBC. He was not found for two days.

Dr Goodall's daughter said she has had frank discussions with her father about life and death. "He's lived a really good 104 years. Whatever happens, whatever choices are made, they're up to him," Ms Karen Goodall-Smith, a clinical psychologist, was quoted by ABC as saying.

Dr Goodall told ABC on his birthday last month that he "greatly regrets" having lived to 104.

"I'm not happy. I want to die. It's not sad particularly. What is sad is if one is prevented."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2018, with the headline 'Scientist, 104, leaves Australia to end his life'. Print Edition | Subscribe