Australia’s best-known euthanasia activist, Dr. Philip Nitschke, is in the news with a machine for committing suicide, the Sarco capsule.
It allows anyone who has the access key to end their life by simply pressing a button. Developed in the Netherlands by Nitschke and an engineer, the machine can be 3D printed and assembled anywhere. Access to the Sarco capsule will be by an on-line mental questionnaire which will provide a four-digit access code.
When you activate it liquid nitrogen will rapidly drop the oxygen level, leading to death a few minutes. Nitschke says that the world is now one step closer to the goal where any rational person can electively end their life in a peaceful and reliable way at the time of their choosing.
“Sarco does not use any restricted drugs, or require any special expertise such as the insertion of an intravenous needle. Anyone who can pass the entry test, can enter the machine and legally end their life.”
But each state and country has its own nuanced set of rules around medical aid in dying, while Nitschke believes the right to die is a human right, not a medical or legal privilege. ”
No one should be subject to rules about whether or not a person is sick enough to choose to die, he said.
It is the “right of a rational adult to have a peaceful deathEvery person over the age of 70 should be able to die.”
Of course, not everyone agrees with Nitschke. Dr. Daniel Sulmasy, a Georgetown professor of biomedical ethics, told Newsweek.
“I think it’s bad medicine, ethics and bad public policy. It converts killing into a form of healing and doesn’t acknowledge that we can now do more for symptoms through palliative than ever before.”
Sulmasy believes assisted suicide violates the bedrock of all ethical thinking, which is that people have value simply by being human beings.
Nitschke argues that palliative care isn’t for everybody. People in good health have approached him simply because they feel that they’ve had a good life and are ready to go, he said. He believes that they have just as much a right to death as anyone else.
The death doctor, now a septuagenarian himself, is also coming to terms with his own mortality. And his invention might be his solution.
“I’ve thought about it a lot lately. I am attracted to the idea of the Sarco, and if I find myself in a situation where I need to use it, I will.”
As a bonus, that the user need not worry about, the capsule can be detached from the Sarco machine and used as a hi-tech coffin and the machine base can be re-used.
(Photos, Sarco capsule; via Newsweek)