An insightful, thought provoking, and aware conversation with Carol O’Neil and Dr Alida Lancee about an issue that impacts us all.
There is considerable debate in Australia and internationally about the right to die. What these discussions often forget is the stories of people involved in them. But, beyond the polarising politics there are individuals, families, doctors, nurses, children, and friends, all with different perspectives. On 13 June 2019, Carol O’Neil and Dr Alida Lancee spoke with co-founder and director of the Centre for Stories, Caroline Wood, about their advocacy for the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia.
Carol O’Neil grew up on a farm in Western Australia. She became a nurse at the earliest opportunity after leaving school, having always wanted to help decrease suffering. She recalls her primary school days, when other students would come to her with their scraped knees and she would take them to the first aid room. Her fascination with anatomy saw her travel all over the state to work as a nurse in maternity and emergency departments. Carol’s brother was dying of an inoperable brain tumour when she became involved in Exit International in 2000. She became the Perth chapter coordinator in 2002, following the traumatic death of her brother in an aged care nursing home at the age of 52. Carol is a firm believer that we can do better when it comes to end of life.
Dr Alida Lancee is a Family Physician and Western Australian convenor for the national group Doctors for Assisted Dying Choice and an active campaigner for end of life law reform in Australia. She initiated the debate regarding end of life choices in Western Australia by her open declaration of her provision of an assisted death for an elderly woman with end stage lung disease. This resulted in a murder investigation for the past two years. She has yet to be charged. Alida participated in multiple state and national media appearances and ran as a candidate in the state election, which helped spur the public demand for law reform. As a result, Western Australia will very likely pass an Assisted Dying law later in 2019 after state government recommendations.