Fight­ing for the rights to die

The or­gan­i­sa­tion ad­vo­cat­ing for dig­ni­fied deaths

Sunshine Coast Daily - Caloundra Weekly - - NEWS - Eden Boyd [email protected]­news.com.au

THE in­de­scrib­able pain Larry Law­ton en­dured watch­ing two of his great loves suf­fer in agony isn’t a tor­ment he wishes on any per­son.

The 91-year-old held his first wife in his arms as she took her fi­nal breath six weeks af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed with pan­cre­atic can­cer.

When his sec­ond wife found out she had can­cer of the uterus af­ter bat­tling breast can­cer years be­fore, she re­fused to live with the dis­ease again.

“She said to me, ‘Larry, I can’t take this any more’,” Mr Law­ton said.

“She asked the doc­tors to take the food sustenance nee­dle out of her arm, and she starved her­self to death.”

Af­ter watch­ing his wife “slowly die for 14 days”, Mr Law­ton de­cided to take the rights of the ter­mi­nally ill into his own hands.

He has been a pas­sion­ate mem­ber of Dy­ing With Dig­nity Queens­land for more than 20 years, an or­gan­i­sa­tion cur­rently ask­ing for sub­mis­sions for a Vol­un­tary As­sisted Dy­ing Bill in Queens­land to al­low those suf­fer­ing with ter­mi­nal con­di­tions to legally ac­cess med­i­cal as­sis­tance to end their own lives.

Mr Law­ton be­lieves vol­un­tary eu­thana­sia should be a per­sonal choice based on a pa­tient’s wishes when dis­cussed with their doc­tor.

“It shouldn’t be in the hands of com­plete strangers sit­ting in Par­lia­ment House, many of them gov­erned by their re­li­gious be­liefs,” he said.

Sun­shine Coast co-or­di­na­tor Denise Sauer’s de­ci­sion to be in­volved was emo­tional, as her hus­band Jack de­vel­oped fron­totem­po­ral de­men­tia af­ter a ma­jor surgery.

Mrs Sauer be­came his full-time carer in the years lead­ing up to his death.

“This strong, tall and hand­some 135kg man ended his days as a 68kg bag of bones,” she said.

“It was truly dis­gust­ing and he would have hated it.”

Mrs Sauer said the or­gan­i­sa­tion is adamant those who dis­agree with their mes­sage shouldn’t deny others of “their rights”.

“If some­one wants to die in agony be­cause of their be­lief, well good for them,” she said. “It’s their choice, but it’s not mine.”

The Queens­land Par­lia­men­tary In­quiry is seek­ing sub­mis­sions un­til April 15.

Visit the web­site www.dwdq.org.au for more.

PHOTO: WAR­REN LY­NAM

MY LIFE, MY CHOICE: Denise Sauer is a pas­sion­ate sup­porter of Dy­ing with Dig­nity.

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