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A gentle, softer end

Philip Nitschke has advocated for voluntary euthanasia for many years. Inset: A self made euthanasia machine, which is made of
Philip Nitschke has advocated for voluntary euthanasia for many years. Inset: A self made euthanasia machine, which is made of

By MEL MARTIN

OVER seven agonising weeks, Narelle Degraa watched her sister suffer greatly and slowly deteriorate before eventually dying.

And it's not something she wishes on anybody.

"I would have liked for her to have a more gentle, softer end," Mrs Degraa said.

"When diagnosed, she said she hoped she wouldn't have a miserable death. I said, 'You won't we're not in a third world country'. Well her death was miserable."

Narelle's 60-year-old sister was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on August 1. After two weeks in hospital she went home with pain control tablets, but her quick deterioration became too much for the family to handle.

"The palliative care people came and because of her condition, admitted her to the hospice," she said.

"The care and attention was excellent, and I'm sure hospices are good for people who have longer to live, for their quality of life. But her quality of life was not improved. I just can't see any point in trying to keep people alive at all costs."

A Christian herself, Mrs Degraa believes politicians are putting their religious values before the interest of the Australian public, and would like to see a fuller debate on voluntary euthanasia, as well as a referendum.

"I think religious beliefs have held back changes to the law and should be looked at," she said.

"Ministers (Kevin) Andrews and (Tony) Abbott have hijacked the debate, but until you experience it up close, I don't think you can judge. It's terrible.

"One nurse said that she felt if the politicians opposed to euthanasia worked just one shift in the hospice they'd change their minds."

While some countries allow voluntary euthanasia, Mrs Degraa says people wishing to end their lives are often too sick to travel.

"And why should you, we're supposed to be a civilised country," she said.

She herself would like to have the option of voluntary euthanasia, and does not believe legalising it would put people at risk of murder.

"I think enough safeguards could be put in place to prevent the risk of people getting murdered," she said.

"I may never use it, but it's nice to know if it gets too tough, the option is there. It's cliche to say you wouldn't let an animal die like that, but it really is a terrible thing to witness."



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