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Now you can recline in a capsule, press a button and end your life peacefully

Euthanasia, or assisted dying, has always been a controversial issue, but now one man has taken the issue one step further.

Philip Nitschke, nicknamed Dr. Death, has built the world’s first 3D-printed euthanasia machine that comes with a detachable capsule that acts as a coffin.

Interesting similarity between our euthanasia doctor’s surname and that of the philosopher Nietzsche, the father of Nihilism that held that all values are baseless: Nitschke and Nietzsche.

Named Sarco, the device allows anyone to end their lives when they want to.

What do you think of that? Mind you, we are not talking exclusively about the terminally ill or severely disabled people here; we are talking about the right of people to end their lives when they choose.

But isn’t life a precious gift? Is it ours to dispose of as and when we wish?

Well, Nitschke has his own ideas about this “gift” of life:

“Most of us accept that life is a precious gift, but what sort of a gift is it if you can’t give it away? That’s not a gift, that’s a burden, that’s a ball and chain,” Nitschke said in an interview on BBC’s Hard Talk.

Nitschke is no stranger to the controversy surrounding end-of-life decisions. He was the first doctor to legally administer, lethal, voluntary injections to help terminally ill patients end their lives under the Australian Rights of the Terminally Ill Act of 1995. After the law was overturned, he founded Exit International in 1997.

In 2015, Nitschke burned his medical registration card, effectively ending his medical career, and has since addressed the choice to end life as a civil rights issue, not a medical one.

He told the BBC that he sees a person’s right to determine the time and manner of their passing as a fundamental human right on a par with the right to food and safety.

The Sarco, which looks rather sleek for such a macabre device, was launched on 28 October at the Exit NuTech Conference New Technologies for a Peaceful DIY Death in Toronto. The launch was live streamed to the world.

Developed in the Netherlands by Nitschke and engineer Alexander Bannink, the machine has been designed so that it can be 3D printed and assembled in any location, states a press release. Those who wish to end their lives by using the machine are given a four digit access code, but must first complete an online mental health questionnaire presumably designed to establish that the person requesting the code is in the right frame of mind, so to speak.

There is a reclining couch inside the capsule which is positioned on a base that can be reused. Before use, the patient must pre-load the ­machine with four litres of liquid nitrogen, reports The Australian.

According to notes that accompany the machine, once the four-digit activation code is entered, “the person is again asked if they wish to die”.

“If Yes is selected, the mechanism immediately allows the liquid nitrogen (to flow),” state the notes. “Within a minute, oxygen levels have dropped to a point where there is an inevitable loss of consciousness, followed by a peaceful hypoxia death.

After death, the capsule can be detached from the Sarco machine and used as the coffin, with the machine then being available for reuse.

The machine was designed in the Netherlands, a country known for its progressive views, including euthanasia.

Dr Nitschke told the BBC his ultimate goal is to help rational people around the globe end their lives peacefully and reliably at times of their choosing.

“Sarco does not use any restricted drugs, or require any special expertise such as the insertion of an intravenous needle,” he said.

“Anyone who can pass the entry test can enter the machine and legally end their life.”

What do you think of this development? Is this man promoting suicide? Is he giving people an easy way out who might still be alive had that option not been available? What does is say about a society that openly helps people to end their lives in a peaceful (read easy) way?

We would love to hear your thoughts. No, let me rephrase that: we need to hear your thoughts.

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