Accessibility links

Australian Court Grants Quadriplegic Right to Die



In a landmark decision, a court in Australia has given a paralyzed man the right to die by allowing him to refuse food and water. Christian Rossiter has begged to be allowed to die after accidents left him a quadriplegic.

Christian Rossiter has said that he felt like a prisoner in his own body, unable to move or carry out the most basic of tasks.

Western Australia's Supreme Court has approved his request to be allowed to die. The former stockbroker can now order his caretakers at a nursing home in Perth to stop feeding him.

Chief Justice Wayne Martin ruled staff would not be criminally responsible if they adhered to the quadraplegic's wishes and did not treat him or give him food and liquids.

The judge explained that the patient had the mental capacity to make an informed decision.

The ruling sets a legal precedent in Australia, where helping someone to take his own life is punishable by lengthy prison terms in some states.

John Hammond is Rossiter's lawyer.

"Mr. Rossiter is very, very happy with this decision. It has been an ordeal for him," Hammond said. "It is quite clear to see the physical discomfort he has been through throughout these proceedings. He has been incredibly brave throughout the whole process and he has now set some parameters through which doctors and patients can now deal."

Rossiter was in court to hear this landmark decision. Helped by a nurse, he arrived in a specially fitted wheelchair. In a statement read to the court, he said that while he had no fear of death, he was frightened of pain.

Since the 49-year-old suffered catastrophic injuries after separate accidents, he has constantly asked for one thing: the right to die in peace.

Rossiter's case is likely to intensify the debate over euthanasia, or killing someone to end suffering, which remains illegal across Australia, and in most countries.

XS
SM
MD
LG