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Better Off Dead Season 2: #8 The Good Samaritan

Listen Thursday, 6 May 2021
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The key word in Victoria’s voluntary assisted dying law is the first one: ‘voluntary’. By law, any doctor, nurse, or other health professional who conscientiously objects can choose not to participate in a person’s request for voluntary assisted dying.

But how does an institution balance its employees legal right to conscientiously object with its obligation to care for its patients?

Colin M, champion swimmer. “They were just playing in the waves. And he got dumped in one of those freak accidents and he knew straight away that he’d had a catastrophic injury.” – Photo: Supplied

In this episode, we meet Colin, a former champion swimmer and  professor of philosophy who is dying and who has applied for the legal right to end his own life. Colin lives by the ancient Roman philosophy of Stoicism. This is what the Stoic Marcus Aurelius had to say about death: ‘Accept death in a cheerful spirit, as nothing but the dissolution of the elements from which each living thing is composed’. For a Stoic, it is good to “choose to die well while you can”.

Colin is living in a Catholic nursing home. They have a very different philosophy about death and dying. To a staunch Catholic, choosing to end your life early is to “to take the place of God in deciding the moment of death”.

What happens when these two ancient philosophies meet in one Melbourne nursing home?

And when does ‘conscientious objection’ become ‘conscientious obstruction’?

Sister Debra, niece Gabrielle, and nephew Elliot with Colin. “One of the most honourable people I think I’ve ever met.”– Photo: Supplied

I don’t understand how people can think that that’s a good or an ethical thing to do to someone, like physically and emotionally to put people through that suffering”

Colin’s sister, Debra

Stoic Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius: “Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.” – Photo: Shutterstock

For more

In this episode (in order of appearance):
Deb M, Andrea Bendrups, Elliot D, John Stanton, Mark Coleridge, Peter Lange

Credits

Better Off Dead is produced by the Wheeler Centre and Go Gentle Australia.

Writer, Co-Producer and Host: Andrew Denton (Go Gentle Australia)
Series Co-Producer and Script Editor: Bethany Atkinson-Quinton (The Wheeler Centre)
Associate Producers: Kiki Paul and Steve Offner (Go Gentle Australia)
Audio Editor and Engineer: Martin Peralta, with assistance from Adam Rothwell
Production Assistant: Alex Gow (The Wheeler Centre)

Marketing: Emily Harms (The Wheeler Centre), Steve Offner and Frankie Bennett (Go Gentle Australia)
Publicity: Debbie McInnes (DMCPR Media)
Episode Pages: Mia McAuslan (The Wheeler Centre)
Episode Artwork: Megan Herbert
Commissioning Editors: Kiki Paul (Go Gentle Australia) and Caro Llewellyn (The Wheeler Centre)
Theme music: ‘Loydie’s Angel’, written and performed by Jordan Laser
Music: James Domeyko, Aaron Gleeson

Special thanks to the family and medical carers of Colin M for their time for this episode.

Your stories

If you’re suffering, or someone you love has died badly – in a hospital, in palliative care, in a nursing home, or at home – or if you’ve had an experience with Voluntary Assisted Dying, we would love to hear from you. Tell your story here.

Subscribe in iTunes, or your favourite podcast app. #betteroffdeadpod

Transcript

Download a transcript of this episode in PDF format.

 

 


Please note: this podcast is not about suicide. If you are interested in increasing your understanding of suicide and how to support someone experiencing suicidal ideation, visit the Conversations Matter or beyondblue websites.

If you (or someone you know) require immediate assistance, contact one of the following 24/7 crisis support services: Lifeline (13 11 14), Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467), MensLine (1300 78 99 78), beyondblue (1300 22 4636), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) or eheadspace (1800 650 890).

 


 

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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation as the traditional owners of the land on which we work. We pay our respect to the people of the Kulin Nation and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, past and present.