Melbourne GP Dr Percy Rogers has admitted to administering a fatal drug to his dying friend, one week after fellow Australian doctor Rodney Syme spoke out about his decision to assist a dying man’s suicide.
According to a report in The Age, Dr Rogers made the decision 47 years ago to administer fatal levels of morphine to his friend who was suffering from terminal lung cancer.
“He was on the bed gasping in terrible pain and was looking for some relief from the pain, so I ordered 20 milligrams of morphine,” Dr Rogers said.
“That was about 11 o’clock at night and I then I had a ring in the early hours of the morning to say he had passed away. I’m certain that it [the morphine] depressed his respiration and shortened his life. It shortened it probably by a matter of hours rather than days.”
Dr Rogers revealed his decision in an effort to support Dr Syme, the vice president of Dying with Dignity Australia, who last week dared police to charge him over his decision to give lethal drug Nembutal to a cancer patient.
Members of the Doctors for Voluntary Euthanasia Choice have supported Dr Syme’s demand that voluntary euthanasia be made illegal for terminal patients.
Dr Rogers said that his main intention in providing the drug to his friend was to relieve pain, despite being aware of its fatal dosage level.
“He was in considerable distress and my training as a doctor was to relieve people’s distress … I felt I was doing my job,” Dr Rogers said.