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Australian Euthanasia Advocate Ends His Life in Switzerland

Australian David Goodall, 104, sits in a room in Liestal near Basel, Switzerland, where he planned to end his life on May 10, 2018.
Australian David Goodall, 104, sits in a room in Liestal near Basel, Switzerland, where he planned to end his life on May 10, 2018.

A 104-year-old Australian scientist who had campaigned for the legalization of assisted dying in his home country has ended his life at a clinic in Switzerland.

David Goodall died Thursday at the Lifecircle clinic in Basel after administering a lethal drug under the guidance of doctors.

With his grandson Daniel and a longtime nurse at his side, the renowned botanist and ecologist from Perth, Australia, began the final stage of the process by receiving a fatal dose of barbiturates.

The lethal cocktail is normally ingested, but since Goodall couldn't swallow, the substance was injected intravenously.

He died shortly after 12:30 p.m. local time while listening to Ode to Joy from Beethoven's 9th symphony, according to the clinic.

Philip Nitschke, director of Exit International, said Goodall's last words before losing consciousness were "this is taking an awfully long time.''

Goodall said his last public farewell Wednesday at a news conference designed to publicize his decision and to help others who might also seek that path.

"At my age, and even at rather less than my age, one wants to be free to choose the death and when the death is the appropriate time,'' he told reporters. "All the publicity that this has been receiving can only, I think, help the cause of euthanasia for the elderly, which I want."

Assisted suicide is illegal in most countries around the world and was banned in Australia until the state of Victoria became the first to legalize the practice last year.

But that legislation, which takes effect in June 2019, only applies to terminally ill patients of sound mind and a life expectancy of less than six months, which would have excluded Goodall.

Goodall did not have a terminal illness but said his quality of life had deteriorated significantly in recent years.

"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. I'm happy to have the chance tomorrow to end it," said the centenarian Wednesday wearing a pullover emblazoned with the words "Aging Disgracefully."

Goodall told reporters he had no last-minute doubts about his decision. But, he was not without regrets.

"There are many things I would like to do, but it's too late," he said. "I'm content to leave them undone."

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