Somehow, last night’s Q&A managed to bring a glimmer of levity to the discussion of voluntary euthanasia. 

We know. We’re just as surprised as you are.

Of course, that moment didn’t come from the guest panel’s discussion of the endlessly complex issue, but from an audience member soundly calling “bullshit” on a panellist’s assertions. 

Sat next to his wife Patricia, 90-year-old audience member Ron Fellows said “we have decided that we will not go into any kind of aged care facility.

“And if the time comes where we can’t take care of ourselves, we will look for some form of euthanasia.”

He explained that the couple had outlined their stance to their family, and Ron said they’d “reluctantly” agreed to the couple’s wishes. He then asked ethicist Margaret Somerville why she is so opposed to the move, if his own family was not.

Somerville’s response was based on the logic that death doesn’t only affect oneself or one’s family, but that it has a broader social impact. She argued “it affects your community. 

“And ultimately, if what we’re doing in society is changing the law to allow this type of, putting it bluntly, killing, then it is a seismic shift in our values as a society”. 

Host Tony Jones eventually saw it fit to ask Patricia what her take on the matter was – after all, it would be a bit rough for Ron to make that call on his own. 

The 81-year-old said that yes, she is in favour of voluntary euthanasia, and that “killing” is really the wrong way to be describing it. Somerville disagreed, saying it’s still “killing yourself,” at which point Patricia said “that’s up to me,” and “it’s got nothing to do with the community, darling. It’s to do with our family.”

Somerville stuck to her view, reiterating her belief that it does affect the community. Then, Patricia piped up:


It’s not like a lone expletive from an octogenarian will solve this issue, but damn, hearing someone speak with such clarity and candor about their wishes within the framework of voluntary euthanasia still has an impact.

Catch the discussion below, and skip to 7:08 if you want to catch the exact segment in question:

Source Q&A / ABC.

To contact the Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia, call their national helpline on 1800 985 944. To reach SANE, a national charity helping Aussies affected by mental illness lead a better life, call their helpline on 1800 187 263. If you or someone else needs support in a crisis situation, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. If you or someone else is in an emergency situation, call 000.