Better Off Dead
By The Wheeler Centre
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Andrew Denton investigates the stories, moral arguments and individuals woven into discussions about why good people are dying bad deaths in Australia - because there is no law to help them.
||Explicit#17 Why Do I Have to Go Through Hell to Get to Heaven?||In this final episode, drawing on what has worked best overseas, Andrew outlines what he thinks the law for assisted dying in Australia should look like. Plus, we’ll hear from two significant stakeholders who both support a change in the law – one, a former Prime Minister, the other, the one major medical body that does officially support assisted dying.||4/12/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit#16 Abandon Hope||My search for the truth about assisted dying began when I was invited to attend the HOPE anti-euthanasia convention in Adelaide, featuring speakers from around the world. I heard dire warnings about what was happening in Belgium, the Netherlands and Oregon – where laws to help people die already exist. I took careful note of their genuine concerns. Many months later – having taken off overseas to see if their warnings held true, and spoken to experts worldwide – I sat down with HOPE’s director, Paul Russell, to talk through what I’d learned.||4/6/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit#15 Lawrie's Story||Of all the arguments against assisted dying, the most heartless I’ve heard is this: 'Suicide is legal. Why do you need assistance to do something that you can do yourself?' In this episode, we’re going to meet father of two, Lawrie Daniel. At 50, and stricken with MS, what does it mean to Lawrie to be told ‘suicide is legal – what’s stopping you?’||4/4/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit#14 Australia's Dark Little Secret||The repeated call by opponents of assisted dying is that the elderly and the vulnerable must be protected from coercion. In this, they are right – and there are many safeguards built into existing laws overseas which do exactly that. But what of the elderly described in this episode by two of Australia’s coroners: rational men and women from loving families – who, faced with an irreversible and painful decline into death, are deciding to kill themselves violently instead?||3/29/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit#13 Now They're Killing Babies||Assisted dying has no more committed opponent than the Catholic Church. They have thrown resources, and the full weight of their political influence, against it wherever it has been proposed … which is why the words of Sydney's Archbishop Anthony Fisher – one of Australia’s most senior Catholic clerics, and a man who commands the ear of many politicians – are worth listening to.||3/23/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit#12 Velvet Ray||Ray Godbold is a palliative care nurse faced with terminal cancer – but he doesn’t want to die in palliative care. There's a lot that Ray knows about death –but what he doesn’t know is that his own death will turn out to be everything he was hoping that he and his family would be spared.||3/21/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit#11 Whose life is it anyway?: palliative care in Australia, part 2||As Andrew spent a week watching the doctors and nurses of St Vincent's palliative care unit in Sydney go about their work, he noticed two things: the compassion and care from everyone as they helped people to die in often complex circumstances; and just as apparent, a deep resistance to the thought of assisted dying. Exactly how deep he didn’t realise – until he sat down to speak with the unit's director, Richard Chye.||3/16/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit#10 Neither hasten nor prolong death: palliative care in Australia, part 1||Speaking with doctors in Belgium, the Netherlands and Oregon, Andrew learnt that in those places, palliative care and assisted dying are seen as things that go together – and assisting a patient to die may sometimes be the ultimate offer of help for those beyond the skills of even the most dedicated palliative care experts. Back home in Australia, the law forbids assisted dying. Without a law to protect or guide doctors and nurses, Andrew wondered: how does palliative care here deal with those same kinds of patients?||3/14/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit#9 Why should one church decide for all of us? Death with dignity in Oregon||The success of Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act – at 18 years, the world’s longest-running law of this kind – puts two things into sharp relief. Firstly, the increasingly desperate attempts of opponents to discredit it. Secondly, the truth they don’t want you to see – that this law has been working, and exactly as intended. How that law came to pass in such a religiously conservative country stands as a masterclass in public policy, and one that set the template other US states have since followed. Andrew sets out in search of Oregon's lessons.||3/7/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit#8 Darkness visible: Marjorie, Edith and Laura: Belgium, part 2||Shortly after arriving in Belgium, Andrew learned of ‘Laura’ – a 24-year-old woman who had sought the right to be euthanised after years of unrelieved mental suffering. It marked the point where Andrew began to feel uncomfortable. Ultimately, several particularly intense conversations with psychiatrists, physicians and people who've dealt with remarkable suffering led him to a question he had never considered before: what if the offer of euthanasia could actually save lives?||3/2/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit#7 The killing fields of Belgium: Belgium, part 1||If there is an epicentre for anti-euthanasia sentiment, it’s Belgium – home to what are often described as the most liberal euthanasia laws in the world. Here, people of any age – even, in some circumstances, children – can be euthanised. Allegations are made of a euthanasia culture that has become so uncaring that the elderly are regularly despatched without their consent; the word ‘murder’ is sometimes used. Yet public support for euthanasia remains high – over 80% – since the laws were introduced in 2002. So, how do these fears hold up?||2/29/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit#6 Once you start killing, you can't stop: the Netherlands, part 2||For those who hold out the Netherlands as a textbook case of a ‘slippery slope’, they see a law originally designed to help the terminally ill – but that has now ‘slipped’ to include those who aren’t. But the Dutch law wasn’t written to deal only with certain diseases; guided by doctors themselves, it was deliberately created for people whose suffering is ‘unbearable and untreatable’. This might include, for example, people with long-term, corrosive illnesses such as multiple sclerosis or motor neurone disease. In some circumstances, it may even include people with Alzheimer’s. But if the basis of your law is that only a mentally competent adult can request euthanasia, how do you deal with cases where that competence is unclear?||2/23/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit#5 The keys to life and death in someone else's hands: the Netherlands, part 1||The Netherlands’ euthanasia laws are the longest-running in Europe. Surprisingly, the drive to create them didn’t come from politicians; it came from doctors. Recognising that, like doctors in many countries (including our own), they were already assisting people to die, they pushed for a law that would bring the practice into the light – protecting both them and their patients. I decided to go there to find out, first hand, how this system works.||2/22/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit#4 It can never be perfect, so why try and improve it?||Opponents of assisted dying in Australia want to leave things as they are, because of the worrying things they claim might happen if we did have a law. But what about the worrying things that actually are happening because we don’t have one?||2/16/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit#3 The 80-year-old outlaw||According to Canadian anti-euthanasia campaigner Alex Schadenberg, Melbourne doctor Rodney Syme is a threat to society: a ‘cowboy’ and ‘the worst of the worst’. Why? Because for over a decade now, Syme has been publicly assisting terminally and chronically ill patients to die – despite the threat of jail for doing so. How did a respectable 80-year-old urologist come to be a law-breaking cowboy?||2/15/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit#2 How dare you want to end your life: Liz's story||What's it like to live in fear that your death may incriminate the ones you love? What if your only solution is to die alone? Andrew meets Liz, a woman who has cancer and who’s been told she has months to live. Since Australia has no law for assisted dying, Liz is forced to spend precious time living outside the law as she seeks a way to be in control of how she dies.||2/14/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||Explicit#1 The invasion of death||To begin Better Off Dead, writer and broadcaster Andrew Denton describes what led him to begin investigating assisted dying laws. He speaks with his old family doctor and meets a woman whose terminally-ill father chose to die peacefully in the Netherlands. He then travels to Adelaide to hear the arguments and concerns of anti-euthanasia campaigners from around the world at the HOPE Symposium.||11/7/2015||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitWelcome||Andrew Denton investigates the stories, moral arguments and individuals woven into discussions about why good people are dying bad deaths.||11/5/2015||Free||View in iTunes|
Many people avoid the topic so I commend them just for having the guts to talk about it. Dark, but it will happen to all of us. Would like to see more topics not just doctors but all sorts of other stories.
Amazing and so well put-together
This is an important topic and it’s handled with a supreme touch by Andrew Denton. Even though he shares his own views up-front, he manages to stay dispassionate and open-minded throughout his journey. I really hope they sort out voluntary euthanasia laws before it’s my turn to shuffle off - hopefully this podcast will be a step in the right direction.