IN a matter of hours, ageing Australian scientist David Goodall will be injected with a lethal cocktail of drugs administered by Swiss doctors.
The 104-year-old, who does not have a terminal illness, has travelled to Switzerland where physician assisted suicide is legal because he no longer believes he has an acceptable quality of life.
Dr Goodall is being supported in his desire for assisted suicide by Dr Philip Nitschke the controversial founder of Exit International and members of voluntary euthanasia groups.
"One should be free to choose the death, when death is at an appropriate time", Dr Goodall told journalists in the Swiss city of Basel. "My abilities have been in decline over the past year or two, my eyesight over the past six years. I no longer want to continue life."
Dr Goodall was forced to travel to Switzerland where assisted suicide has been legal since the 1940s if performed by someone with no direct interest in the death.
A euthanasia bill was passed in Victoria last November to allow terminally ill patients to end their lives. It will come into effect in June next year. No other Australian states currently have legislation permitting the practice - NSW rejected a bill last November, WA has a committee considering the matter, the Dying With Dignity organisation in Queensland hopes have a bill before parliament next year and in late 2016 South Australia rejected a bill to make assisted suicide legal in that state.
Before being approved for the assisted suicide Professor Goodall was cleared by Swiss doctors who said he was of sound mind.
Dr Goodall is an esteemed academic, ecologist and botanist and an expert in arid shrublands. He has held senior positions at a number of Australian universities and as well as universities in the UK and other parts of the world.
He told a news conference he would have preferred to end his life in Australia.
- Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.