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David Goodall, 104, Australian Scientist Who Advocated Assisted Dying, Ends His Life

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LONDON — On the eve of his death, David Goodall, 104, Australian scientist, father, grandfather and right-to-die advocate, was asked if he had any moments of hesitation, “even fleeting ones.”

“No, none whatever,” Mr. Goodall said in a strong voice. “I no longer want to continue life, and I’m happy to have a chance tomorrow to end it.”

Mr. Goodall spoke on Wednesday before a phalanx journalists and photographers in Basel, Switzerland. That the inquisitors had come from around the globe to hear what would be most likely the last public words of the man once called Australia’s oldest working scientist was evidence that his campaign to end his life had captivated audiences worldwide.

On Thursday, Mr. Goodall died about 12.30 p.m. local time, according to Exit International, a right-to-die organization of which he had been a longtime member.

A renown botanist and ecologist, he was not terminally ill, but his health had deteriorated so badly that he had to stop most of his activities — like working at Edith Cowan University in Perth and performing in the theater — and he did not want to continue living. A fall in his home last month exacerbated his condition.

Keenly aware that the news conference on Wednesday was one last opportunity to help promote euthanasia and assisted dying in his own country, Mr. Goodall, wearing a blue sweater with the small logo “Ageing Gracefully” on the front, withstood the barrage of questions, squinting because of the flashing cameras and sometimes struggling to understand because of his hearing loss.

He was flanked by Philip Nitschke, the director of Exit International; and Moritz Gall, a representative for Lifecircle, an association that supports people going through major life decisions and guides them through the laws of Switzerland.

Mr. Goodall said, “I’ve had a good life,” he was not afraid of death but acknowledged that he previously tried to end his life in Australia. “It would’ve been much more convenient for me and for everyone if I had been able to,” he said, “but unfortunately it failed.”

He was crystal clear about why he had chosen “the Swiss option.” Euthanasia and assisted dying are banned in Australia, though Victoria State has passed a law on assisted dying that goes into effect next year but that will apply only to terminally ill patients who have a life expectancy of no more than six months.

He said he hoped his life story would “increase the pressure”


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