One of the most
eloquent voices on euthanasia in Australia is Dr Erik Leipoldt, a quadriplegic who is a lecturer at
the Centre for Research into
Disability and Society at Curtin University of Technology, in Western Australia.
Alarmed at the prospect of legalized euthanasia, Dr Leipoldt has written a very
persuasive essay in Australian Policy Online arguing that legalization would hurt
the disabled most. As he points out, the aged and disabled – who are to be the
“beneficiaries” – often feel very differently about their lives.

As an example, he
cites the experience of John Moxon:

In 1966 I had
just started to race cars. My mate’s girl friend was a trainee physiotherapist
getting work experience in the spinal injury unit at Royal North Shore
Hospital. Over coffee (or maybe tea, back then) she shared with us the effects
of a spinal cord injury – paralysis, skin problems, breathing problems, urinary
incontinence and infections, bowel incontinence, etc. We also got to learn that
maybe someone else might need to attend to many of those personal issues.

And I can
remember quite clearly saying “well if that happened to me, I’d rather not
survive the accident. No one could live like that.” I was so sure.

When four years
later, I crashed and broke my neck – I changed my mind immediately. And not for
one moment since my accident have I ever wanted to die because of my
disability. I’m now 72 and living a full and very enjoyable life. I’ve made it
quite clear that I want to hang on forever. No euthanasia for me.  

Dr Leipoldt
comments: “Such accounts of lives lived with significant disability are not
isolated and are typical, not the exception, including for respirator-dependent
people with quadriplegia.”

For the full force
of his argument, read the essay.

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet. He lives in Sydney, Australia.