Preempting the inevitable
Since a few countries now allow euthanasia, a 104-year-old Australian scientist is set to the end his life at a clinic in Switzerland on Thursday. But is this right? The centurion said that his life was no longer worth living and hoped his story would lead to the legalisation of assisted dying in other countries. David Goodall, a respected botanist and ecologist, has been due to die at a clinic in Basel after travelling to Europe from his hometown of Perth, Australia earlier this month. The grandfather-of-12 and longtime member of pro-euthanasia group Exit International said his life stopped being enjoyable because of his failing mobility and eyesight. "My life has been out in the field (working), but I can't go out in the field now," said Goodall, who must be pushed everywhere in a wheelchair. "I would love to be able to walk into the bush again, and see what is all around me," said the father-of-four, who during his long life has had three wives and moved to Australia from London as a child. He said he would have preferred to have died when he lost his driver's license in 1998, adding that the loss of independence at 94 was a big moment in his life. "At my age, I get up in the morning. But the routine, thereafter, is so predictable. What's the use of that?" Euthanasia is illegal in Australia. Goodall's home state of Western Australia is currently debating whether to introduce the policy. A small number of countries including Japan, Belgium, and Switzerland have physician-assisted suicide. "I'm looking forward to it," the scientist said of his impending death. "What I would like is for other countries to follow Switzerland's lead and make these facilities available to all clients if they meet the requirements, and the requirements not just of age, but of mental capacity." Was he scared of dying? Goodall said he did not fear death but instead would "welcome it when it comes." Interestingly, for one who had been awaiting the inevitable, Goodall appeared to have lost none of his sense of humour by wearing a top inscribed with the words "Aging Disgracefully." The respected botanist and ecologist went on to hold academic positions across the world, including in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia. After his retirement in 1979, Goodall edited a 30-volume series entitled Ecosystems of the World, written by more than 500 authors. In 2016, he was awarded the prestigious Order of Australia Medal. His advice for young people on how to live a good life is "to take whatever opportunities arise as long as those opportunities don't involve harm to other people."